Re: The Gospel Twirl!, Ormonde Plater writes:
> I'm not sure I understand why the deacon faces east while
> proclaiming the gospel in the midst of the people. Is the church
> saying that the gospel is equivalent to prayer?
in general we christians have always faced east in church. if you
think about it, if you put the deacon in the middle of the
congregation, or even a bit behind the middle, it would make no
particular sense to have him face west, since the majority of the
people (at least when it's a full house and there aren't just a
handful standing in the back) would then be behind him. As it is,
they surround him, and he has to face *some* direction. The whole
purpose is to put the deacon in the middle, where he can be heard by
the max number of people. So when reading, he faces east just like
everyone else. But the point is that he does so from the midst of the
people, so they can hear him.
facing west makes sense only if he's to the east of those to whom
the same arrangement is used traditionally in synagogues, by the way.
The reading desk is in the middle; the building and its people
generally face jerusalem, although during the reading of the torah
they might face the torah.
> Posted by: "Tom Poelker" TomPoelker@... tapoelker
> Gee! an elevated place in the midst of the assembly so
> everyone can see and hear! What a good idea!
> Isn't an elevated place called a bema?
depends, i suppose. In the orthodox tradition, the bema is the area
behind the altar, where the bishop has his throne and where he stands
for the reading of the gospel. But i think others, including the
jews, call the platform in the middle of the church a 'bema',
although i may be wrong about this; i have some idea that they may
term the elevated area where the ark is, the bema, and they may call
the reader's desk the ambon. I forget. But for us, we call it the ambon.
> What if we put it so that it faced east and people faced it
> on three sides? Why should only the deacon use it and only
> at the gospel?
that's what we do, at least. The reader doesn't actually stand on the
platform-- it is strictly reserved for the bishop, except for the
deacon when he is reading the gospel-- but the reader reads the
apostolic reading from in front of it. (old testament readings are
read either from there also, or from the chanter's stand). I suppose
if the platform has steps, he would read from the steps.
But the whole point is that people hear it on all *four* sides. Only
the deacon uses the bishop's platform, because only the gospel, which
he reads, is the words of Christ.
there's an interesting related rubric regarding standing and sitting
for the readings, even if part of it is seldom observed in america:
For old testament readings, everybody sits, because baptism has made
us a nation of kings, priests, and prophets. For the apostolic
readings, the clergy sit, because they are the successors of the
apostles, but the people should stand attentively (in america they
sit, but this is not correct). For the gospel, even the bishop
stands, head uncovered, because no one is equal to christ. This same
distinction is reflected also in the place of the reading.
> We could put the lectern for all the readings and for the
> preaching (ambo we sometimes call it) against the west wall
> and the altar in front of it and everybody can see and hear
> and respond to everything while the priest faced east, if
> that is really important.
no, the altar goes to the east because that is the direction of
prayer, and the congregation as a whole is offering the Intemerate
Sacrifice to God, who is "east" of us ("in light inaccessible", as
the apostle puts it).
But the readings are for instruction, so for that reason the fathers
arranged that they should be done from the middle of the nave, so the
max number of people could hear them.
> We could have the altar on the west wall and the east wall
> blank with the ambo at the foot of it and people on two
> sides, even!
heh heh. i think you're getting carried away with your ideas, yes?
regards from warm kampala,