What is a church? People just think it is a building for Christians, but that is not entirely true. The closest translation of “Church” is from the Greek word “Ekklesia” and it means the “Lords House”; this was used to describe a place of Christian worship. Church can be attended by anyone, not just Christians. They come to worship Jesus and pray to God and to give thanks, to celebrate, or to request help. Celebrations are also held in the Church, as well as choirs and religious singing. The church is a unique design and a parish church is a cross-shaped building.How did the church begin? It all began after Jesus ascended.
The twelve disciples met every day to talk about him, but no one really knew what to do. Jesus had been their friend and their guide and now they felt lost and frightened without him. On one particular day they were all together in one room praying and sitting quietly when, all of a sudden it felt like there was a strong wind blowing. It wasn’t from outside but from inside. Then a fire appeared floating in the air in the middle of the room, and little flames came out of the fire and touched each person.The fire and the wind were from Jesus and it meant they were being filled with God’s Spirit, and they were no longer frightened.
They began to talk in lots of different languages, as God gave them each a new language to speak. So, as they chattered away and suddenly they realised these languages were the same as the languages of all these different countries. With this they told people outside all about Jesus, and more than 3000 people decided to become Christians that day. They had sermons and teachings, which became the ‘Body of Christ’ and from which the Church began and grew.For this project I visited St Leonard’s Church in Wollaton, and it was interesting to see what it is like.
My first impressions of the church were it’s a unique design and its a traditional look which suites Wollaton. It is a simple design, which is common among Churches as they shouldn’t be elaborate as it is a place to pray not to show off. There are many religious objects inside and the layout of them is symbolic. Only the main person is in gold, Jesus and this makes him stand out more than anything. This church is very popular among the parishioners for these reasons. Descriptions of the 10 main features in a ChurchWhen I went to St Leonard’s Church I saw many objects the church possess.
Here are 10 features I picked out and explained including their use and significance: Altar- In a church, there is an Altar table. This is always located at the front of the Church, placed in the centre of the sanctuary. It is a simple table, decorated, and can be made of stone or wood. It should always be a simple table of proportional dimensions, and often a perfect cube; also it is always freestanding so that it may be encircled.
It should also have a nice covering with colourful material to show divine and heavenly character.It also shows God’s glory and majesty, and it may drape down to the floor. On the Altar there is a cross, candlesticks, some flowers and the church’s silver (e. g. Chalice). In Cathedrals and some Churches, the altar has an antimension. The cloth shows Christ in the tomb, which contains the signature of the bishop and is the permission for the local community to gather at the church. In the very early times the altar was originally used for animal sacrifice.
After that the table was used by Jesus to have a meal with his 12 disciples, and this is known as ‘the Last Supper’, the altar represents this event.At the meal Jesus passed around bread and wine to his disciples, telling them that this was his body and blood, which he was about to sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He said to his followers, to remember him by celebrating the super until he returned. Today, it is still celebrated and the altar is used for the ‘Holy Communion’, which recalls the Last Supper, which is very important and is central to worship. The priest, or minister, uses the altar to prepare the bread and wine for the Eucharist. Congregations face the altar during church services.The altar is the focal point of the building; this shows the significance of Jesus death and resurrection. Christians receive the Bread of Life, the Body and Blood of the Lord’s Passover Supper.
This table is the “table of God’s Kingdom” and that’s what the altar means to Christians. Candles- Candles are placed around the church and signify more than just light. There are some on the altar, and in the Eucharist celebration they are lit up, representing the spirit of prayer and praise. The Holy Spirit is thought of as a flame, and Jesus is called ‘the Light of the World’.
There are also some around the church on stands and one with the font. In baptism the candle is used with the font (see font), and when it is lit, it means that the person, or child, who is baptised is going form darkness to light. On Easter the candle is used differently and Paschal Candles are used.
On the stroke of midnight the Paschal candle is lit and then carried to the church, which is pitch black, and the candle symbolises the light of the resurrection of Jesus, which gradually overcomes the powers of darkness in the world, bringing light.When the light is passed around everyone is reminded that the ‘Good News’ of the ‘Light of the World’. There are candles called votive candles, which are on big, colourful stands at the back of churches. They are a reminder of the presence of Christ, and Christians make a small offering, taking their time to make an effort to remember God during there busy day. Crucifix- The crucifix is a cross with Jesus hanging on it. Often there are the initials INRI above him, this stands for ‘Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews’ in Latin. The crucifix is the symbol of the sacrifice Jesus made for Christians and his suffering.It is there as a permanent reminder of God’s love forever for Christians.
Sometimes the crucifix is suspended above the entrance to the sanctuary, where all can see it, or it may be on the altar table (see Altar). If the crucifix is placed above the altar, it reminds Christians that the Mass is both a sacrifice (like the crucifix) and a meal (like the altar). People find it moving to pray in front of the crucifix. The figure of Jesus on the crucifix helps people meditate on his death Flowers- In church there are many Flowers, in a variety of colours. They are an ornament with meaning and significance in them.
Christians saw flowers as special signs of heaven and the unfolding of spiritual life, and adopted them as symbols of everything pure and holy in Christ and his Virgin Mother. Also Christians believe that in worship, flowers represent there lives and sharing in the beauty of God and his world. Flowers are brought into church buy the parishioners. They can be found anywhere, decorating the church, or found on the altar, or usually found on a plain table, with no cross and no candles.
In some churches, at the Holy Communion, parts of the church are scattered with many flowers and priests wear them as garlands and crowns.Font- In a church the font is a feature used for the baptism of children and adults. Most fonts have a pedestal (about 1. 5 metres tall) holding a basin of water, but the shape can vary. Many are 8-sided as a reminder of the “new creation”.
Some are 3-sided as a reminder of the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They can be made out of marble, wood, or metal. The quantity of water is usually small (usually a litre or two). There are some fonts where water pumps a natural spring, or there is tap water used and gravity keeps the water moving to give the effect of moving waters of a stream.
The font is often located near the entrance of a church (back of the church). This has a symbolic meaning for Christians because when there body enters the church through the door, there soul enters the church through Baptism. But in some churches, the font is found at the front to emphasise the fact that a person is entering a sacramental community, also to allow the whole congregation to see the baptism service and welcome the new member in to their midst. Also it is near the lectern (where the Word of God is read) and the altar because it shows the link to the other sacraments a person will come to receive during their Christian life.In ancient buildings it is located in a special Baptistery (A room or building set apart for baptism). Lectern- In church, the lectern is a bookstand or a reading desk, where the priest or minister reads the bible and prayers.
The word ‘lectern’ comes from the Latin word of Legere, which is means ‘to read’. The lectern is read from by the Priest or the Lector (Lay Reader). They would read the Old and New Testament, which is usually gathered in a book called the ‘Lectionary’. Also the Lectern is used to read the scripture lessons, make announcements and to lead the congregation in prayer.Some lecterns are normally decorated with a cross or some other symbols to remind Christians of the respect to be given to the bible or other scriptures, which are being read. The shape of the lectern can sometimes be eagled shape (which is standing on a ball), in which the bible is placed on.
This is a symbol of Saint John, who wrote one of the gospels, which tells the story of the life of Christ. The eagle shaped lectern symbolises the power of God, flying into the hearts and minds of Christians around the world, which is shown in the gospels.Pews- Originally Christians stood for worship, which still happens in some churches, but most churches have pews. These are the seats that people who come in to worship sit on. They are long, backed bench in rows. They are split up: there are rows of pews of the left of the church, and rows of pews on the right. There is a gap in the middle. They face the front to show the importance of the altar.
The word pew came from the French word ‘Puie’, which means ‘a raised place. ‘ Many pews have carvings on the bench ends and at the top of the carvings; there may be an animal head or a figure.Pipe Organ- This is a musical instrument in Church. It is a piano or a keyboard with organ pipes on the top, which make it sound different. The organ is an instrument, which has flowing air to make a sound that is loud, deep, and broad, and an echoing sound. These properties are ideal for the Church and also it has an advantage because only one person has to play the keyboard/piano.
The pipe organ though has a richer and more complex sound produced than with any other single instrument. The sound is like the sound out of a flute. Organ came from the Greek word ‘organon’ which means ‘an instrument. ‘The organ is used before, during and after the end of the Church services. The Pipe organ lightens the Church up in many ways. It brings peace and clears people minds.
Christians have a soothing feeling going through there bodies. The choir who are singing find it easier to sing with an organ and it supports them. Pulpit- The pulpit is a raised platform in the church, from which a sermon (religious lecture) is preached. The word comes from the Latin word ‘pulpitum’ that means ‘platform or stage’. The pulpit usually is located on the left of the altar (unlike the Lectern which is on the right of the altar).It is high up so people can see the preacher and to show how important the word of God is. Also, if the priest is high up it shows his authority to everybody, and to symbolise the fact that God is also watching over them from above.
The Pulpit symbolises the word of God and when the priest or Minster is going up the stairs to the pulpit, it gives the feeling that he or she is going up to Jesus. At the Church the priest or minister would preach a sermon, which instruct listeners how to live there lives in a Christian way. This is usually based on a passage from the bible, which was read aloud, at the lectern, earlier in the service.Some Christians take a great significance in this part of their worship because they feel it is important to listen to the words of the Bible and to try and obey its teachings. Stained Glass Window- These are big colourful windows in many shapes or sizes, around the church. They have pictures, portraits or a design featuring pictures in them.
They were built the time when people could not read the bible and so stained glass windows were invented to help them to see events and stories from the bible and the life of Jesus. Also there would be some stained glass, which would have pictures of famous saints or people in the bible.The windows are read from the front of the church to the back, and they are arranged in the order of events in the bible.
Stained glass has had a good affect on Christians because they want to tell a story, and to remind others that the love of God shines beautifully in their lives and brings a sense of the presence of God in the Church. Christians treasure this and the light shining through should be used to help those in need. The stories from the Bible on the stained glass have that impact because it shows the good times for Jesus but the bad when he was suffering. The Role of a PriestIn Church you will find priests. They can be in charge or they can be assistants. In a parish church they are in charge and they replace the minister. The role of a priest consists of the seven sacraments: Infant Baptism, Confirmation, The Lord’s Supper, Penance, Holy Unction, Ordination and Marriage.
In infant baptism, before the ceremony the priest blesses the baptismal water with a prayer, then the Christening takes place. This is where the priest holds the baby above the font and sprinkles water three times over the baby while saying, “I baptise you in the name of the Farther, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”.Then when that is done the priest makes the sign of the cross on the baby’s forehead.
Confirmation takes place when the baby is at the age of 10-12 where they can confirm to be a Christian. The priest has some holy oil and he anoints the child and says a prayer showing he is now welcomed into the family. The Last Supper is a Christian celebration in which they recall the last supper for Jesus disciples (see Altar for more detail). Before the bread and wine is given out to everyone the priest blesses it.Then everybody comes and knells down to the altar and the priest gives a bit of bread and wine individually to each person there at the ceremony. As this is going on the priest says prayers, to show what the bread and wine represents. Penance is where parishioners come to the church to confess their sins to the priest and to find forgiveness from God.
The priest listens to the person and they give a penance, which is a penalty for the person to take in. This sometimes comes from the bible. The Holy Unction is where the priest anoints the sick with holy oil and prays over them.Ordination is where a person becomes a priest and a bishop performs this. They learn what to do as a priest but it is not related to the role of the priest though. Marriage is a big sacrament, which the priest has to conduct. The priest’s job in this is to marry the couple in front of God.
The priest starts of by asking each of the couple if they would take each other as long as they both shall live. If they both take each other the priest tells them the vowels and they take them and to not brake them. The groom places a ring on the bride’s finger, they kiss and then they are married.