The Holy Gospel and Gospel Stand (Lectern)
Evangelion (Gospel/Good News – Greek: Evangelion) or Book of the Gospels refers to the first four books of the New Testament. These books are titled as ‘Gospel according to St. ….….’ It is not a simple narrative of the life of Jesus of Nazareth but a presentation of Jesus as Christ, the Word. However, the Evangelion Book’ (or just Evangelion), is a book that contains the Gospel reading portion for Sundays, feast days, commemoration of saints and other services, arranged sequentially and methodically, according to the order of the Yearly Liturgical Calendar. It is a codex or bound volume containing the four Gospels Passages, centering on the life of Jesus. Thus, a large ceremonial book containing the four Gospels for proclaiming the Gospel at liturgical celebrations. In the first part of Holy Qurbana – the Liturgy of the Word’ the set of readings from Scripture culminates in the proclaiming of the Gospel. However, the Gospel is not just a book but is the voice of Christ Himself.
The Gospel Book is carried in procession at specific times and feast days, accompanied by candles and Sacramental Fans. The celebrant takes the ornately bound Evangelion and elevates it high over his head. Lifting up, the Gospel book is a sign of the authority of God’s Word over our lives. When we commit ourselves to the wisdom of the Bible, we find there a powerful source of meaning and direction. The Lord of heaven and earth Himself, said, ‘I came from the Father and have entered the world’ [Jn 16: 28].” The Gospel is here a symbol of Christ. The Lord came into the world bodily, and personally. He entered in upon His preaching and His earthly ministry and found Himself here among us. The Saviour speaks to us in a symbolic and spiritual sense when Gospel is proclaimed. The Word is Light to men. It is God’s word, the Good News that is proclaimed.
Gospels are proclaimed and listened with extreme reverence and attention. Do not consider anything in them to be of little importance or unworthy of full contemplation. Every iota of it radiates life. Strive to assimilate the Gospel with your mind and heart, so that your mind would, so to speak, swim in it, live in it. Christ is revealed in the Gospel Proclamation (Word of God) and this corresponds to his revelation by His body and blood in Holy Communion (Word Himself). Proclaiming or hearing the Gospel, we stand upon this vertical heavenly road, and walk upon it to Paradise.
A Gospel is kept resting on the chest when a priest or bishop is buried. This signifies his vocation to preach the Gospel to all men and during the funeral service for a priest and bishop there are several readings from the Gospels, to indicate the importance of the Gospel to his ministry. When a Synod of bishops meets, a Gospel Book and a Holy Cross is often enthroned in a prominent place to show that Christ Himself presides over the meeting.
Gospel Stand (Lectern) – Evangelion Mesha
Evangelion Table, also called the Lectern, from which the readings are read. ‘When the gospel is read, we are receiving Christ, Himself, The Word. This is a suitably shaped table, with a slanted top to hold the open Gospel and place it, in a position to be read. It is covered with a colorful embroidered clothing or will have carvings directly on it. In the front, it also has a place to keep two candles stand with candles, one each on the right and left of the Gospel. Next to the Altar, this Gospel stand is treated as the most sanctified object in the sanctuary. The word lectern comes from the Latin word ‘lectus’ past participle of legere, meaning ‘to read’, because the lectern primarily functions as a reading stand.
It is the Table of the Word of God. The book of the Four Gospels called Evangelion is kept on it. This Gospel, the word of God symbolizes Christ and the stand as God’s Throne. The word of God should be kept at the right side of the Altar, as Jesus Christ the Word, sits at the right-hand side of God. For this reason, veneration and sanctity is attached to this Table. The priest or deacon entering the sanctuary kisses the Gospel, before kissing the four corners of the Holy Altar. It may for this reason and for sake of convenience of priests or deacons, it is kept on the left side, of the Altar.
The gospel of St. Matthew 5: 1 tells us that Christ went up a mountain to preach the gospel to the multitude. Therefore, the Evangelion, points to Christ Himself, is placed on the Gospel Stand. Some Oriental Orthodox Churches do not place the Gospel on the Lectern, instead hold the Gospel in decorated, colorfully embroidered fabric. When the Gospel is opened for proclamation, two candles are lighted, recalling the words of the Psalmist (Ps. 109: 105). We faithful commit ourselves to the wisdom of the Bible, as there is a powerful source of meaning and direction. It is not only a lesson for our minds, but a real meeting with and revelation of Jesus Christ.
This is the pulpit which symbolizes the heights of Mount Sinai from where God spoke to Moses and handed him the stone tablets (Exodus 34: 2). The sermon for the day or preaching of the Gospel is done from the Evangelion Mesha by the Priest or Bishop, who rightly Proclaims the word of Truth (2: Tim. 2: 15)