Christ Episcopal Church in Monticello Florida is 129 years old this year. It is an old traditional style church, which includes stately wooden pews made in the slavery era. There are no nails in the pews. Each pew is a little different sized. The pews are made of heart of pine 1 ½ inch thick solid planks, wood that is unavailable today.
Every single pew has slight indentations where generations of worshipers sat to hear God’s word and worship together. It is reverent; you can almost feel the prior communicants collectively praying. But the pews are wood. The older you get the harder they seem.
As God winnows away the worshipers padding assigned at birth, the time you can be seated comfortably gets shorter. The entire time I have attended Christ Church, I don’t recall any discussion about seat cushions.
Over the last 30 years, some worshipers have brought pillows from home to use as a seat cushion. Mind you these are tasteful pillows! No slogans, no garish material, but pillows chosen for their soft colors and soft padding.
Everyone in Church knows who owns the pillows. No one but the owners use the pillows.
Last Sunday I saw a bit of pillow confusion several rows ahead of me, but the pillows rightful place was quickly determined. For the first time I really thought about the pillows.
The pillows are joined with a particular communicant. Every single one of the pillows is used by people who have attended Christ Church for decades, some for generations. All of these lovely pillows represent years and years of dedication to our Church, our fellow Christians and our God.
I began to look at the pillows in a different way. These pillows like a mortar board and cap at graduation are our graduation to a different level of participation in Christ Church’s life.
Each time I have served on the Vestry, I considered raising the question of cushioned pew seats. After my pillow epiphany last week, I think the old mellow, hard wooden pews are just fine.