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Visit two local Christian churches. Using pictures and/or diagrams describe and explain the main features of the buildings and their furnishings.

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Introduction

In order to take photographs and gain knowledge of features and furnishings in Christian churches, I made visits to St. Cuthbert's church (RC) and St. Barnaba's church (C of E). Visit two local Christian churches. Using pictures and/or diagrams describe and explain the main features of the buildings and their furnishings. A church building is nothing more than a meeting place for people who share common beliefs to practice worship as a community. At first glance, a church's interior may appear to be nothing more than an ornately decorated building, but each and every feature and furnishing holds special significance in the Mass, and may also aid worship. Christianity revolves very much around symbolism and so key features may be placed in very specific locations within the building to remind us of certain Christian beliefs. Basically, everything in a church building has a practical purpose during Mass, or some sort of religious symbolism attached to it, or both. Both the RC and C of E churches I visited have much in common, although there are definite differences between them in terms of their features, and their significance in the Mass. The altar is a large table at which the bread and wine are consecrated during Mass. It is usually made of wood or stone. In Church of England, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox churches, it is always the main focal point, and is usually located in front of the east-facing wall in the sanctuary. In both churches that I visited, the altars were located in this position. All Christian churches have altars, although they may also be referred to as `communion tables'. There are always two altar candles at either side of the altar. The crucifix shows a figure of Christ, whereas a cross does not (the two are often confused). It is usually made of wood or metal and can be virtually any size. ...read more.

Middle

In most Christian churches, except in some Protestant denominations, the back wall of the sanctuary will face east in the direction of the rising sun, to symbolize new birth and resurrection. East is also the direction of the holy city of Jerusalem, considered to be the birthplace of Christianity. Anglican church buildings are often cross-shaped to symbolize the cross that Jesus died on. Traditional Roman Catholic churches were also built in the shape of a cross, although many modern buildings are circular or semi - circular. Modern church buildings, with the congregation close to the altar, display the fact that everybody is equal in the eyes of God. The altar represents the table used at the Last Supper. It is always the main focal point in a Roman Catholic church building. It faces east, as this is where the sun rises, a symbol of new life i.e. the Christian belief in the Resurrection. The altar is the focus for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which the priest offers up to God on behalf of the people. Before the Second Vatican Council, the altar was right up against the east wall, and the priest said Mass with his back to the people. The remoteness of the altar was supposed to convey the holiness of God to the people. The word `altar' reminds Christians of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross because, in ancient times, an altar was a table where a sacrifice was offered. During the Mass, the priest `recreates' the events of the Last Supper, by consecrating bread and wine to make it holy, just as Jesus did. The congregation then shares this spiritual meal in the same spirit with which they would share a meal with family or friends. The crucifix is a symbol of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross, and it is there as a permanent reminder of God's unwavering love for us all. ...read more.

Conclusion

In fact, a priest can celebrate Mass, as long as there is at least one other Christian present. So in theory, and under special circumstances, a person could still receive Holy Communion and celebrate Mass once a week outside of church, as long as a priest is willing to make a special visit. This would be very unusual of course, but by taking the question very literally, it is possible to be a Christian and not go to church. If a Christian decided to opt out of going to Mass, I believe it would still be possible for them to live a Christian life as long as they still follow common Christian values. Just because they do not express their Christianity as a part of a church community should be no reason for them not be able to call themselves Christian. After all, a church building is nothing more than a meeting place, and, in theory at least, it is still possible to be a Christian and never even step foot into a church. Approaching this question another point of view, it could be said that a true Christian must receive the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, and although these are `one-off' sacraments, they should only be given in a church (except in emergences e.g. fear of death etc). As a result, if there is no physical reason to stop a Christian going to church to receive these essential sacraments, then they should attend a church service to receive them in the traditional manner. I conclude that it is possible to be a Christian and not go to church. The bottom line for being a Christian really is living your life by Christian values, such as respecting the Ten Commandments (particularly the 2 Great Commandments), and agreeing with the statements made in the Creed. If a person fails to do the above then they cannot be considered truly Christian, even if they are a very nice person. Even going to Mass means nothing if a person does not respect the Commandments or believe the Creed. ...read more.

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