This weekend I photographed the National Cathedral. Earlier in the week I was taking pictures of Amy's big, beautiful, pregnant, belly. It is interesting that of those two things it seemed to me that God's presence was more evident in Amy's belly.
Bryan, Daniel and I were at the Cathedral to take it all in on a Sunday. It was our "church" for the day. After climbing in and out and through this enormous structure like ants, we stopped in "the Bishop's Garden" to rest. A great debate broke out between my husband and my son. Initiated by Daniel, the overarching question seemed to be, "Is this really a monument to God?"
The gargoyle of Darth Vadar aside, (yes there is an actual gargoyle in the likeness of Darth Vadar)...
which I could spend hours of brain splitting trying to figure out why... but that would be such a waste of precious mental energy. This Cathedral is a "house of prayer for all people" as it says on the brochure. In our "tourist" state it seemed more like an amusement park, and I think that may be what put Daniel off. Although you couldn't deny the beauty in the architecture and stained glass, it had an interesting tone to it. Perhaps if we went back intent on being worshippers it would feel different, but somehow I don't think so. And I, for one, can worship in almost any setting.
The institution has seemed to lose some of it's meaning, and in the case of the Cathedral it is more of a monument to America anyway. The appearance of faith, the symbol of religious tolerance, it has all the ingredients that we have deemed right for the representation of church.
Except the people.
It is hard for one to be critical of the National Cathedral because all of our churches do this. It has always amazed me that in so many towns you can drive past church after church(sometimes on the same street?) after church after church.
Where is the body.
We continue to build these massive buildings that then become the focus. Good intentions start with providing a place for people to gather, but the minute that the budget isn't met there is a shift in focus. From house of faith to christian country club. What is the difference between paying dues at a country club and "tithing" so that the church can build another wing? Isn't it just as self serving? We say it is for the sake of community, christian education, etc. etc. blah blah, blah. I think that the new church business model is now the tail that wags the dog and Christ has "left the building" and is hanging out at the nearest Starbucks.
Maybe we can still gather in large places to worship. But in my own experience, something screams out to me that we need to be careful when our calling to honoer God gets blurred into ambition. Isn't that what happened with the tower of Babel?