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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Seat

When was the last time you went into a room and found someone else sitting in your seat? It may have been a classroom, or the dining room or, God forbid, it may even have been the church!

Do you have a seat that is “yours” in the sanctuary where you normally worship? Are you a “back-sitter” or a “front-sitter”? We have this conversation from time to time around our CEM lunch table. Now most of us tend to be sitting up front in the speaker’s chair, looking out over the congregation. But occasionally we get to just be part of the crowd and need to select another seat. We compare notes as to which part of the room feels most comfortable to us. Some like to stay at the back, the better to have a perspective of the whole room. Others prefer to sit at the front, so as not to be distracted by whatever is going on back there. Yet others always tend to this or that side of the room based mainly on where they sat as a child! It just feels better, they’ll say.

Hardly anyone just sits – wherever.

Where do you sit? And why do you sit there? And what happens if someone else sits in your seat? Maybe it doesn’t make much difference to you. But I’ll wager that there is someone in your congregation whose name is on a seat, and if some interloper sits there by mistake, everyone waits to see what the reaction will be. Will they ask them to move? Will they just glare and sit somewhere else? Will they crowd into the seat beside them rather than take another less comfortable spot?

I know those things happen. I’ve sat up front often enough to be able to see it happening. I see whole congregations crowded into the back three or four pews. I notice folks scattered around the room with long stretches of emptiness between them. I’ve heard presiders plead with congregants to “please move up”—mostly to no avail.

I have no explanations to offer. No theological principles for you to ponder based on this obscure metaphor of church seating. I’m just tossing it out there for your consideration. What do you say? Any reflections, insights, sermon seeds to share based on where we all sit in church?

Posted by Marion

4 comments:

  1. A few years ago we went to a Sunday afternoon organ concert at one of our local churches. We chose our seats carefully so that I in particular could watch the organist. Much to our surprise, a member of that particular church came and stood by us and said: "You are sitting in my seat". Guess Sunday morning seating is still in place for Sunday afternoon public concerts!

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  2. My congregation crowds into the last 5 or 6 pews. It's even worse in the summer when so many are out of town. Many times there is at least 40 ft (12 meters) between the speaker and the first human being, and each person sits alone in their pew. They are far enough away that you can't see facial expressions or hear another soul when singing the hymns. One time when it was time to speak I took a portable lecturn back to the first row with people and gave the sermon from there. I loved seeing people's eyes.

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  3. Some of the people in our congregation have their special places to sit. A few bring their own cushions to sit on and they leave them in the pew for next Sunday. It does make the wooden seats much softer. Since my husband is often seated before I am, I sit where ever he has chosen to sit - usually near the back of the church, but not always on the same side or row.

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  4. i remember being in one congregation, a large church building but only about 20 - 30 people scattered all about the large sanctuary... before i spoke i asked them to gather in the front pews and asked the organist to play a hymn while people gathered... they did a good job of singining the hymn but hadn't moved...

    i explained that we were going to keep singing until we had gathered and asked the organist for another hymn... this time they gathered while singing!

    i have a "seat" near the front... i can see what is going on from there and take part in the service!

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