If you've ever taken a careful look at the churches in your area, you've probably noticed that some of the newer buildings don't conform to our old stereotypes of what a church should look like. And if you've recently participated in a church building or remodeling project, you probably have a good grasp of the reasons behind these new trends in church architecture. Church building isn't as predictable as it used to be.
In many of our churches Advent is celebrated with numerous signs and symbols. Special banners, Advent wreaths, and Chrismon trees enrich our worship and give deeper meaning to our celebration. But, aside from palm branches on Palm Sunday and perhaps a few candles on Good Friday, few churches make similar use of symbols during Lent.
In 1957 the Ascension Lutheran Church of Danville, Virginia, added something new to their celebration of Advent. They brought a Christmas tree into their sanctuary and covered it with special three-dimensional symbols and monograms. Mrs. F. Spencer, the creator of these ornaments, called them Chrismons, a word she coined by combining two other words: Christ and monogram.
In several ways, both during and after services, worshipers in Christ Community Church of Nanaimo, British Columbia, are encouraged to pray. Before we are led in prayer by the minister, individuals bring prayer requests, and we pray about them together. But because many individual needs are private and not suitable for sharing in public worship, Christ Community Church has opened a prayer room. In fact, the prayer room has become such a vital part of our ministry that we think of it as our "engine room."