This may be a long one.
This blog contains another Legacy Worship Center Construction Update with new, never-before-seen photos; a Mark Teixeira reference; and the number nine. Hang with me.
My family and I had the pleasure of attending the Celese Courtney – Randall Roseberry wedding at TCU’s Robert Carr Chapel Saturday. (It’s always seemed to me that everybody here at Legacy was related to somebody else at Legacy. And that wedding made it official. Now we are all truly a church family.) Yes, the girls love attending weddings. And Carrie-Anne and I always try to use opportunities like that to teach them about marriage and commitment and love, even though sometimes it seems they’re only interested in the wedding mints and throwing birdseed.
The chapel, built in 1953 on the TCU campus, is gorgeous. Simple, but elegant. And it just feels holy. It just feels sacred. As soon as you walk into the place, you know without a doubt you are in a house of worship. You feel like you’re in the presence of God and people who belong to God. It looks and feels like a church. Not like a gym or a performance hall. You know what I mean?
The Carr Chapel is sacred space. It is holy. It is set apart. And it’s done intentionally.
Because it is designated, holy, set apart space, they’re very picky about what happens and what doesn’t happen at the Carr Chapel. And how it happens. Check out some of their rules and regulations for those using the chapel for wedding services:
“Chapel furniture, including the communion table, the kneeling bench, and the cross may not be moved or have decorations placed on them. A floral arrangement may be placed in front of the cross if it doesn’t exceed 40-inches in height.”
“All weddings held in Robert Carr Chapel are religious services and as such certain protocol is expected.”
“Professional photography and video may only be conducted from the balcony. Guests are not allowed to take pictures from the sanctuary during the ceremony.”
“Only music that is of a religious or sacred nature may be used in the chapel. The mention of God or Jesus does not necessarily make a song religious. Love songs are not appropriate.”
“Electronic amplifiers, recorded music, and electronic keyboards are prohibited.”
I think we in the Church of Christ have rightly taught that the Church is not the building, it’s the people. We rightly hold that we worship in spirit the One who is Spirit and that wherever two or three are gathered in his Name, the Lord is present. We teach and believe — again, rightly so — that God is no more present with me in a Christian assembly of a thousand disciples on a Sunday morning than he is with me in my closet at home.
But I’m afraid we’ve taught that and held that and pushed that to the extent that we’ve lost the Biblical concept of sacred space.
Bethel. Mount Sinai. The burning bush. The Ark of the Covenant. The Holy of Holies. Shechem. All holy. All sacred places set apart from the other places because that’s where God meets with his people. Can you imagine the Israelites ever holding a garage sale inside the Temple? Can you imagine Carr Chapel bringing in a big screen and showing the Super Bowl?
Robert E. Webber, in a chapter on the environmental setting of worship in his book Worship Old and New, says that our worship space is the “stage on which the redemption of the world is acted out.” And that truth is expressed in the signs of redemption all around the worship area such as the table, the pulpit, the baptistry, and the arrangement of the chairs for the congregants who also enact the Gospel. According to Webber, this tells us that all material things belong to God and can be used to communicate truth about God. The repeated emphasis in our Scriptures that God dwells in the tabernacle or the temple also shows us that we can symbolically communicate the presence of God in the Church and in the world. And the dozens of references to “God’s glory” filling the space acknowledges God’s real presence in that space with his people. Webber points to Solomon’s dedication of the temple as providing the model for consecration of sacred space, “not to be regarded as an exercise associated with magic, but as an act that sets apart a particular place for the community to publicly meet God. The Christian church has continued to use the practice of consecration and recognized that the place where people gather to worship is special.”
Again, I think you can get carried away with that.
But I’m afraid we sometimes plan worship space and use worship space in theological error and, worse, with theological indifference. We don’t think about these things. Or we think these things don’t matter.
I think we’re hurt here at Legacy by being forced to assemble together for the expressed purpose of meeting God and worshiping God in a place that’s also used as a basketball gym and a dining hall and a variety of other activities that have very little, if anything, to do with the holy presence of our holy God. Our gym / fellowship hall doesn’t have a look or a feel that’s any different from a recreation center or cafeteria or exercise space or school auditorium you could find in any part of our city. I may be overstating this, but I’m not sure there’s an overwhelming sense of a separation between the sacred and the profane in our current setup. And that certainly creeps into our view of worship, our view of God, and our view of what’s really happening on Sundays: God’s holy people meeting with their holy God.
Having said that, I’m so excited about our new Worship Center, currently in the beginning stages of construction here at Legacy. I’m thrilled for this body of believers to have a space set apart, a sacred space, a holy place, where we can meet our God. And I’m interested in your thoughts and your experiences as they relate to this question of sacred space.
Legacy Worship Center Construction Update
The mountains are gone. They’ve either been smoothed out, hauled out, or a whole lot of both. It’s very clear now where the additional parking spaces are going to be. And the ground where the new Worship Center and the Youth and Benevolent Centers are going to be is smooth and flat.
Only nine more days until football season. And the all-time greatest #9 is old Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen. He started with the Eagles as a fourth round pick out of Duke University in 1957 and peaked with them in 1962 with 32 touchdown passes. But he went to Washington in 1964 in a trade for Norm Snead and went on to lead the NFL in passing three times over the next ten seasons.
As a Redskin, Jurgensen threw for over 3,000 yards five times, he had 25 games with over 300 yards passing, and five more games with at least 400 yards. He went to five Pro Bowls and finished his 18 year NFL career with a QB rating of 82.63 and as the 9th all-time leader in passing TDs. Jurgensen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983. Don’t give me Tony Romo. Sonny Jurgensen was the best to ever wear #9.
What else would you expect from a superstar traded away from the Texas Rangers? He’s killing! Mark Teixeira hit two more homeruns yesterday, giving him nine HRs and 25 RBIs in his 18 games with the Atlanta Braves. They’re still five games behind the Mets in the NL East. But he’s killing! Good for him.