The Madness of Hope + [Worship]

Place of Worship

Today I visited San Juan Capistrano; an old mission south of Los Angeles. The gardens were beautiful and the ancient architecture fascinating. What impressed me most, however, was the peaceful feeling of worship. Even after almost one hundred years of being used as an active outreach to the community, there is still a peaceful presence throughout the compound. As I sat both in the small chapel, and in the gardens, I began to reflect on our ‘places of worship’. I know God does not reside in a ‘place’ but do we provide a ‘place’ for others to worship.

As a child in an African country where the public schools were academically inferior, my parents sent me to a Convent for part of my school years. I am not Catholic but we agreed to abide by their rules and respect our differences. It was in that school that I learned to appreciate the quiet and serenity of the chapel. Often during recess I would enter the church to escape the noise of the playground, and spend time alone with God. There was never an interruption as talking was strictly prohibited. Those memories flooded my mind today as I sat in quiet to worship God. I begin to reflect on our ‘church’ building. There is no quiet place to pray. On Sunday’s the sanctuary is bustling with activity. Only during the actual service do people cease from socializing. During the week there is also loud music and constant noise.

There is nothing wrong with the way our church uses their sanctuary. But I wonder if, at times, it would be best to enter reverently and let those who desire to pray, have the quiet and peaceful atmosphere to do so. I fear we are raising our children to be unaware of the need to quietly kneel before the Lord and enjoy time alone with Him. There are plenty of places to spend time with God, and I enjoy worshiping him in nature, on my plush comfortable sofa and in a crowd of fellow Christians. No criticism is meant here, just contemplation on whether our church buildings are actually ‘places of worship’ outside of the hour and 15 minutes we come together on Sunday morning. I miss having a ‘place’ set aside only for entering into the presence of God.