Where I Sat; Where Will I Sit?

12 September 2007

Two Sundays ago, this was the Gospel lesson. The curate preached on how, at certain events (especially weddings), we still take seating seriously. And it’s true: who hasn’t picked up their little seating card, found their table, sat down, and wondered, “Why did they put me at this table? Is this the ‘singles’ table? The ‘married’ table? The ‘married-with-young-children’ table? The ‘gay’ table? The ‘Y’all-don’t-know-anybody-at-this-wedding-except-the-bride-or-groom-so-we’re-putting-you-all-together’ table?”

The gist of the sermon was that seating is important, it really does mean something, and so we should wonder if we will be prepared for the particular seating assignment we will receive at the heavenly banquet.  Will we find ourselves surprised who our table neighbors are?  Perhaps we will be sat next to someone we didn’t treat very well in life.  What does that mean in eternity?

The odd thing about this is where I was sitting during this sermon.  The Little Guy had come to church with me, and we had gotten there as the clergy entered the narthex and the prelude began.  Not wanting to miss out on all the music and liturgy, the Little Guy refused to go to the nursery.   No big deal: we hunkered down in a corner of the sanctuary where it is comfortable to sit, there’s a box with kids’ Bible storybooks, paper, and crayons.

As the sermon was preached, though, I began to think about my location in the sanctuary —at this foretaste of the heavenly banquet— during this sermon.

In the back corner of this formerly-auditorium-style, now-in-the-round sanctuary, the old baptismal font stands on a little raised platform.  The baptismal font no longer holds any water (a sad thing, really, although that the baptisms happen in the middle of the sanctuary is a good thing).  Next to the baptismal font, a shelf serves as a credence table , holding two candles, bread, wine and a reliquary with a relic of St. Joseph of Cupertino.  A structural pillar stands between the font and the altar and pulpit.

And there, on the edge of the platform, —unable to see the altar and the pulpit and unable to be seen by the preacher/presider— sat my son and I.

And I liked it.  Even the somewhat pathetic symbolism of a dry baptismal font and the semi-hidden location.  Now, this is not my assigned seat, nor do I sit there often, but it’s actually a pretty nice place to sit.

Someone please tell me what that says about me.  After sitting there, I feel like I have something in common with James Kelsey.  As my rector told me shortly after Bp. Kelsey died, “He’s a model.”

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