Monday, May 4, 2009

Church tour - the front entrance

I adore the beauty and symbolism of church architecture, from the grand sweep of a Gothic nave to the minutiae of intricate stained glass. Art and architecture serve the same goals as music in a church: to direct congregants toward God's glory, to proclaim the Gospel story in another form.

Not many of our members use the front door at Bethany, quite simply because it doesn't face the parking lot. Like many homes today, the front door hardly gets used. It's too inconvenient or too formal or just no longer makes practical sense (for our church the new addition of a welcoming room makes the side entrance imminently practical). For these reasons, as well as for anyone who might struggle with the stairs at our main entrance or for anyone trying to stay out of the elements, it only makes sense to use the side entrance.

However, if you've never used the front door to the church, you've missed an important symbolic element of the architecture. When you enter the front door, you enter a transitional space from the everyday to the sacred. The staircase symbolizes physically the mental and emotional change that should take place when we enter the sanctuary.

If it's a sunny day this Sunday, come in the front door for a change and notice the contrast with the darker space inside. Look up and glimpse the stained glass window and the altar. Allow yourself a physical prelude to accompany the musical prelude. Use both the music and the architecture to prepare for worship, rising up out of your everyday concerns to commune with God.

Coffee and friends will still be in the welcoming room between services!

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