We live in a time and place overwhelmed with hyper-sensitivity to the self. Students feel micro-agressions from sidewalk chalkings, we selfie to death, and we come to church expecting the experience to revolve around us. In a time and place that changes fancies like old phone apps, this is a destructive thing. I want to suggest that the church, as a place and an institution, should be about everything but you in its space and worship.
Sacred Space is a concept that has virtually been lost in modern America as everything about the church has become utilitarian and disposable. A building that looks unique and other-worldly from the outside communicates to the world here is an embassy of another people and reassures the people of God in chaotic times, the kingdom doesn't change. An interior that arouses awe and comfort and that intuitively leads one inward among the pews and up to the place of distribution of Word and Sacrament ensures believers are reminded, without ambiguity, that God is with and among his people. Modern buildings are often confusing and thoughtless and possess a temporary feel that causes a generation scarred by divorce to wonder how long this marriage will last.
Worship has lost its sharp alien character in the 21st Century West. Strange, powerful and moving singing and liturgies have been replaced by accessible but trite elements that lead one's vision and thoughts not upward but straight in front of you. Congregational singing should be deep and special music profoundly thought-provoking in a way that lingers with you through the week. Lingering and reminding you that you've been someplace far from the space you inhabit on Monday morning. An instrument like the pipe organ, designed specifically to maximize and communicate the gigantic quality of the Kingdom of God, has been succeeded by three dudes pretending to be ballad singers from the hollers of Appalachia. Worship should pull you far away from yourself and all your self-centered desires and cast you onto a far shore filled with royal feasting halls, the songs of warriors, and sagas of conquest from the greatest empire in history.
We're rapidly coming to the end of our trajectory. The church now conveys a more flaccid narrative than our current entertainment and political culture. In order for the Church in America to survive, it must turn from "me" to "us" in the timeless, mystical sense that includes the Church Militant and Triumphant.