"" Writer's Wanderings: Sunday Worship Thoughts - The Rood Screen

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sunday Worship Thoughts - The Rood Screen

While we were visiting with our friends in Redbourn, England, we wandered through the 900 year old St. Mary's Church. As we started up the aisle wondering and admiring the ancient architecture, Kathy pointed out the intricately carved wooden screen that separated the main sanctuary area (the nave) from the altar area (the chancel). The center was open but as she explained the screen had something to do with keeping the clergy and the lay people separated. She called it a rood screen.

A rood screen? At first I thought she had meant, "rude screen." The words sound alike. My curiosity was aroused and when we got home and settled in again, I looked it up. It was a feature of medieval churches and would have had a rood loft upon which would be the Great Rood, a sculptural representation of the crucifix. The history of the rood screen is fascinating and if you'd like to read more about it, try this link.

My first thought as I stood and observed the rood screen in St. Mary's was it's figurative resemblance to the veil in the temple in the Old Testament--the one that was torn in half as Jesus died on the cross, symbolically inviting man to come closer to God. Showing us that there should be nothing that separates us from Him. And with Christ's resurrection the invitation was made complete.

Rood screens disappeared in churches around the time of the Counter-Reformation. I'm glad. Although they are a work of art, a part of history, they too should not appear a barrier to God's grace.

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