Monday, December 08, 2008

Facing East for Advent

Our new processional cross...

...and Father Rooster celebrating the Eucharist, with Father Arnold Klukas from Nashotah House looking on.

The chapel that we meet in on special occasions has an east-facing altar (toward Lake Michigan, in our case, which is kind of neat symbolism). East-facing altars went out with Vatican II when it was felt that the priest should face the congregation instead of turning his back to them, and Fr. Rooster usually stands behind a free-standing altar.

But since the first two Sundays in Advent are when we especially wait for the second coming of Christ and it has been a long-standing practice of the church to worship facing east, and since we have this east-facing altar in the chapel, Fr. Rooster decided that we would use it as it was intended on those two days. The congregation was invited up into the choir and onto the steps of the altar, so that we all joined him there for the Eucharist.


I have been reading C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader with the Bantams 9 & 13, and this morning we read about how their ship (an old Christian symbol for the church) continued sailing eastward, past all known territory, until they came to an island which had "an attractive smell...what Lucy called 'a dim, purple kind of smell.' " They soon discover a great banqueting table set with rich foods, and a beautiful girl invites them to eat at Aslan's Table, "set here by his bidding, for those who come so far. Some call this island the World's End, for though you can sail further, this is the beginning of the end."

What beautiful imagery for Advent and Christ's Second Coming!

Photo credit: Tammy Prather (Joel's wife)

1 comment:

J. Wing said...

In the Lutheran church I attended, the pastor faced the congregation when he was addressing them, and the altar when he prayed. There was a microphone on the altar, so the congregation could hear him, but he was clearly addressing the Lord. In that particular church the altar was on the north.