THE AMBO, the podium or lectern from which we proclaim the scriptures, the Word of God, is a primary sign and symbol in the worship space.

The congregation can sit facing each other (choir formation) with the altar between them at one end, and the ambo between them at the other (as it is at Knox College, Dunedin, and at St John’s College in Auckland). This underscores the balance between Word and Sacrament. There are other ways to arrange the furniture which can maintain the focus and centrality. I have seen both ambo and altar “up the front”, mirroring each other’s placement there (they are mirroring in my first example). Ambo and altar can be more akin to each other architecturally than in some places – the ambo becomes the table from which we are fed from God’s Word…

Do you place candles by the ambo, in the same manner as they are by the altar? Some light them during the Ministry of the Word, then that light is transferred to the altar at the Ministry of the Sacrament.

Do you read all and only the scriptures from the ambo? Where is the Gospel proclaimed? Why?

From where is the psalm led? From where is the sermon given (seated is obviously the early church tradition)? From where are the intercessions led? Where are the notices given? How does the presider proclaim prayers with the open hands of orans without holding a book? How do we make sure we keep a special reverence and place for the scriptures, and yet do not clutter our space with general lectern, pulpit, and presider’s lectern?

When there is no service in the church building, is it possible to “enthrone” the scriptures open on the ambo for those coming in for personal devotion to be conscious of our reverence for God’s Word?

This post is, hopefully, useful for a number of contexts. It is particularly offered as one in a series for reflection as we begin planning the building of a number of church buildings after the closing of dozens of church buildings because of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Can you add some ideas, responses, even further questions to help people’s reflections…

image sources 1, 2, 3

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