Thursday, May 19, 2022

A place for reverence and reflection

"Why Our Churches Should Be Beautiful" is very much worth reading, especially if you are considering a change in your place of worship.
...[I]t’s important to remember that God does not dwell in temples made with human hands (Acts 7:48), and that Jesus is present with his people despite the shape or style of the space they worship in. And though attractiveness shouldn’t be the sole or most important focus of a church, the most important focus is not the only focus.

In trying to spend as little money on a worship space as possible or making it nondescript as to make it unassuming or inoffensive, we risk forgetting three things: one, that we worship God in physical bodies in physical spaces; two, that these physical spaces are a place of spiritual formation; and three, that all beauty comes from God and is just a taste of his perfection and majesty.

American evangelicalism has long walked a tightrope between gnosticism and pragmatism about our time on earth. After all, the thinking goes, if God’s chosen will be spending eternity in heaven, does our fleeting time in this world really matter? And on this, Scripture is clear—yes! God created a physical, living and breathing world for his people and filled it with not just the bare minimum to survive, but also with richly-flavored foods, jaw-dropping landscapes, and stunning flora and fauna. And though our world has been corrupted with sin, we are assured that one day all of creation will be redeemed and made new through Christ (Romans 8:18-22). God cares about the physical world, and so we should care about the physical spaces we worship him in.

But these physical spaces of worship can also shape us. “Our faith in Christ and obedience to Christ is always embodied,” says Rev. Duke Kwon, lead pastor at Grace Meridian Hill and co-author of Reparations, “We have never worshiped our Lord in anything but physical bodies and anywhere but in a physical space. Thus, the architecture and aesthetics of our houses of worship—what we see, hear, feel, even smell—invariably shape our communion with Christ and one another week after week.”

Spaces often give us cues of how we are to act in them—a library or a museum inspire peace and quiet, while a music venue or a playground invites noise and celebration. In the same way, we should be careful that our places of worship are created to encourage space for reverence and reflection, and not only for loud praise music or electric guitars. Our churches should be designed in light of the fact that their aesthetics are a tool for spiritual formation. .... (much more)
Rabekah Henderson, "Why Our Churches Should Be Beautiful," Mere Orthodoxy, May 18, 2022.

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