six mornings each week, i go to the church around 5:30 to practice. i spend the first thrity minutes of that time sitting in one of the pews in prayer and meditation. as i've sat there for the past several weeks looking toward the chancel, the harmony of the church's design has spoken to me. architecture and its impact on us is a fascination of mine, and i am convinced that the design of the rooms in which we spend our time has a profound effect on our mental condition.
from wherever one sits in the church the eye is drawn to the center of the back wall, which is framed by a large arch. in this focal point, three crosses are mounted on the wall, the center one larger than the other two, an obvious reference to Jesus' crucifixion with the two criminals on either side of him. in the recessed area outlined by the large arch is the main choir seating area.
from the three crosses, as the eye backs away, one becomes aware of two smaller arches on either side of the large arch, mirroring the the three crosses. in front of each of these smaller arches, there are organ pipes, and these pipes are arranged with large central pipes surrounded by small pipes on either side.
backing away from the arrangement of three crosses, three arches, and the organ pipes, one sees that the front of the chancel has a tripartite configuration with the communion table in the center, the pupit to the left and a lectern to the right. because of its location in the center with a large wooden panel that hides the organ console behind it and the large arch with its three crosses as a frame, the communion table becomes part of the central focal point.
the choir seating area itself is arranged into three sections, too, with the large central section inside the large arch and two smaller "wings" on either side of the main seating area. this arrangement is mirrored in the congregation's seating area, which has a large central area that occupies the major portion of the cruciform shape of the room. on either side of this long seating area are smaller seating areas that occupy the left and right areas of the cross arm of the room.
everywhere one looks in the room, there are reminders of the number three. the three large stained glass windows are divided into three panels. there are three smaller stained glass windows on either side of the long seating area. these three-part arrangements and the mirroring of the choir seating area and the congregation seating area give the room a unity and harmony that is not apparent at first, though i believe that our subconcious mind registers the subtle beauty of what appears to be a very simple, plain room, at first glance.
the angling of the seats in the two smaller congregation seating areas, the central steps directly in front of the communion table that lead up to the chancel, and the placement of the lighting directly in front of the chancel all direct the eye to the large arch with its three crosses. there are two smaller hanging lanterns over the side congregational seating areas and a large central lantern that hangs from the center of a dome formed in front of the chancel.
the designer of this room has created a small architectural masterpiece that nurtures the worshippers and honor the God who is worshipped there. my prayer today is that we find harmony and unity in our own lives, just as the room i've described creates such feelings in its occupants. may the God of beauty be reflected in our lives and hearts. shalom.