Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Redeemer Sanctuary- A Place with Purpose

This past September marked the tenth year of public worship in the Redeemer Sanctuary. 

Architecture communicates purpose and values. Just as Gene Veith notes in his writing about church architecture- “The Gospel can be preached in any style of building or in no building. But just remember, the laws of aesthetics and the relation of form and meaning operate whether anybody likes them or not.” Office buildings, schools, houses, and churches all depict something about the people who own or occupy them. During the planning phase for the Redeemer sanctuary the committee tasked with the design wanted several things to be conveyed by the sanctuary presentation.

The exterior is meant to be simple and strong with features that lift the observer’s gaze heavenward. Without being ostentatious, the building should make a statement about the seriousness of worshiping God and stand out as a centerpiece in the community. 

The interior is simple but full of meaning. The narthex is large with a high ceiling.To enter the sanctuary one passes through a small area with low ceilings. This transition space is meant to help focus worshipers as they enter, but also contrasts the very high ceilings encountered upon entrance to the sanctuary itself.

Veith has also observed,“a basic principle of aesthetics is that the form must be in harmony with the content”. In this light, the sanctuary has four large pillars that hold up an ellipse. Looking through through the ellipse the ceiling appears to float above. Each of the pillars is a reminder of the perfections of Scripture: The Inspiration, Inerrancy, Authority, and Sufficiency of the Bible. The ellipse symbolizes a lens we see through to know God. But just as the ceiling can only be seen in part, so also God is only seen in part through Scripture. God transcends our full comprehension, but the Scriptures tells us exactly what is necessary to know about Him. The main features of the sanctuary design are meant to relay the certainty we have about God through His Word and the greatness of God that goes far beyond our human comprehension. 

In the front of the church is a plain cross symbolizing the finished work of Christ which secures salvation for all those who trust in Him. Also in the front are three main furnishings.The largest item is the pulpit which is placed in the center. This is meant to depict the centrality of the Word of God and it’s primary place as a means of God’s grace.The other item also on the chancel level is the baptismal. This is used to administer the initiatory rite of baptism to believers and their covenant children. Entrance in to the visible church happens through the sacrament of baptism and it represents our need for the washing of our sins through Christ. On the floor level in the center is the communion table. The table is used to celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a congregation every Sunday. The pastor is not a priest presiding over the people, the pastor is an under shepherd of Christ serving the church family on the same level as everyone else.The Lord’s Supper is a visual, perpetual reminder of the finished work of Christ and the basis for our salvation. 

In every pew there are special benches (called kneelers) for the congregation to join in specified times of prayer during worship services and on other occasions. The Word and the sacraments are critical means of grace, so is prayer.The kneelers help us to assume a posture of humility as we come before our Lord in prayer regularly. 

The organist and choir have a place to sit and stand in the back of the sanctuary as they assist the congregation in worship.They are not a performers. They are assigned to prompt and assist the congregation’s readiness to worship with music and singing.    

The cornerstone on the outside of the sanctuary says “Soli Deo Gloria” with the verse inscription “Psalm 127:1”, which says Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain”. 

The Redeemer sanctuary is truly a place with purpose. 


Glenn Wardell said...

I agree with everything said...but another picture might be more helpful. It seems so sterile compared to the previous sanctuary.

Adam said...

Thanks for sharing Tony. Great to hear that detailed thought went into the building regarding who would use it, what functions it would have for those people with baptism and the rest, and what the final cause is for — God’s Glory and lifting Him up in all aspects.

This is a longer article but references why places like Redeemer with a specific purpose are important.