-Why do we seem to pay special attention to the pulpit, table and font?
Signs and symbols serve us all the time in life. We use street signs to know where we are and where we’re supposed to go. A wedding ring may serve to symbolize unending love and commitment. A warning sign tells us to keep away for our safety. So to, in worship, we come and gather around liturgical “furniture” to remind us what is really going on.
We gather around the font and water, remembering that for Christians, here, water is thicker than blood. For it is in our baptism, by the Holy Spirit, that we are united to Christ and adopted into the family of God.
We gather around the Bible and pulpit, remembering that Jesus Christ is the living Word of God who has spoken and who continues to speak to us, especially through the written word of Scripture.
We gather around the table, to taste and see again and again that our God is not far off but is present with us in Christ by the Spirit, spreading a table before us and inviting us to come and eat the bread of life and drink the cup of salvation, to come and be nourished by Jesus Christ himself, and to do so knowing that one day we will feast all together with him in the glory of the new creation.
We gather for worship around each of these signs in order to be reminded of God’s grace and God’s presence with us.
-Why does Rev. Ytterock often pour water when we’re reminded that we’re forgiven?
After confessing our brokenness and sin, we remember our baptisms as it is the sign that everything old in us has been washed away because of Christ and we have been raised to new life. The water is the symbol of that washing and the symbol of the living water which Christ offers us that we may thirst no more.
-Why do the colors in the sanctuary change sometimes?
The colors in the sanctuary change to reflect the current season of the church (or, Christian) year. For Christians, the year begins with the season of Advent (four weeks before Christmas day) and ends with Christ the King Sunday, in November. Between Advent and Christ the King, we celebrate Christmastide, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide, and the Season After Pentecost (or, Ordinary Time). The seasons help to give us a rhythm for worship and contemplation and life
-Why do we read more than one passage from the Bible?
Rev. Ytterock often chooses the Scripture texts for Sunday by using a tool called the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Christians have long thought it important to hear certain texts during certain times of the year, as well as to hear a broad range of Scripture rather than the same few books or verses again and again. The schedule for reading/hearing these texts is called a lectionary. There have been many different lectionaries used. However, in the 1970s a committee made up of members from several different denominations put together a lectionary called the Common Lectionary. This lectionary was revised in the 1980s and it is the lectionary that we – and many other mainline denominations – use to guide us in selecting our texts.
Every Sunday the RCL suggests four different Scripture passages: an Old Testament text, a Psalm, a New Testament Epistle, and a Gospel reading. The RCL is broken into a three-year cycle so that at the end of three years at least 80% of the entire Bible will have been read.
-Why does Rev. Ytterock wear a robe and stole? Isn’t that outdated?
Like a police officer putting on her uniform, or farmers dressing in their broken-in jeans for a hard-days work, many pastors put on a robe and stole (vestments) to lead worship. Like a uniform, it can be sign that the pastor is ready for the particular work to which she or he has been called – leading the congregation in worship.
The black robe many Presbyterian ministers wear symbolizes the marriage between faith and study, or as an old saying goes: “faith seeking understanding.” Rev. Ytterock’s stole changes color along with the church year.