Sunday, January 9, 2011
Architecture and Worship
This Lord's Day i substituted for an organist friend while he attended a workshop. The church in which i played is a beautiful Arts and Crafts building. The interior is full of lovely wood, and the plaster is painted a perfect yellow-gold, but the most amazing aspect of the building's interior is its huge stained glass windows with vivid reds and blues and a rich golden brown. The floors, ceiling, walls, and windows vibrate with such glorious richness that they seem to be alive. Outside today a winter storm was gaining strength, but inside this wonderful room there was no hint of the frigid weather. The image that came to mind was that of a womb protecting those who worshiped from all dangers and discomforts. As i contemplated this image, i wondered if this was what the act of worship and the space in which it takes place should call to mind. Worship is complex, but the feeling of safety in the community that is the church is a part of why we come together for worship. As we worship, we are bound together by our common devotion to God, though we may have different theological perspectives, different lifestyles, different politics. If we are truly the church, we respect our differences and are safe in disclosing our vulnerabilities to one another. This beautifully crafted room engendered just such a response, and when we left, i felt rested and inspired for service, having spent this time in the safety of fellow Christians and the space in which we had gathered.