I am preaching through 1 Corinthians and in preparation for 1 Corinthians 3 I have been doing some thinking about sacred spaces, particularly in reference to corporate worship. Our church is known for its casual atmosphere on Sunday morning. I like it that way. I want it to continue, but I have been thinking how we can maintain that casual, warming, accepting atmosphere and yet recreate the sacredness of the sanctuary.
The Scripture says we are God’s temple (1 Cor 3:16). Not “you are God’s temple” but “y’all are God’s temple.” It is true that the Holy Spirit dwells in each Christian, but that is not the point of Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 3. The context of the verse is the problems of divisions in the local church. By saying “y’all are God’s temple,” Paul is meaning that you all as brick’s in God’s building are the building in which God dwells. God is holy and will only dwell in a sacred space.
How can we work to recreate sacred space, a holy place for God to dwell?
Sacred space can easily be lost.
Culturally we, in the Western world, have lost a sense of the sacred.
The Poet/prophet writes:
Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not muchIs really sacred. ~ BD 1965
So much of the evangelical world has bought into the pragmatic/market-driven/commercialized/slick produced/plastic/consumer/materialistic values of the Western world and it has eaten up our sacred space. I guess, I want it back. I want to reclaim sacred space…holy places to find God, see him, behold, gaze, worship, reflect…
I need sacred space.
Not Americanized sacred space
Not Evangelical-ized sacred space
Not charismatic-approved sacred space
Not emotionally-hyped sacred space
Not sacramental sacred space
Not ancient sacred space
Not emerging sacred space
I need sacred space
I don’t need the label and the prefabricated set of values that goes with each of the above sacred space. There is some that each of these traditions has to contribute, but I am not looking for the latest fad in “planning your worship service.” I want to join with others in the pursuit of God, to jump headlong into the cosmic pursuit of the illusive God.
I need sacred space.
Here are ten elements that I think are necessary in reclaiming sacredness. I am going to offer them to my congregation Sunday morning.
Humility :: a recognition of God’s greatness and our smallness
Sobriety :: a solemn focus on the presence of God
Contemplation :: a gazing upon the beauty & mystery of God
Confession :: acknowledging personal sin against God
Repentance :: rethinking and re-living for God
Brokenness :: feeling God’s sorrow regarding our personal sins
Openness :: allowing the Holy Spirit to penetrate our hearts
Earnestness :: loving God with all your strength
Willingness :: ready to do what God asks
Communion :: eating the bread and drinking the juice in memory of Jesus