Taking down the banners outside and the banners inside,
the garlands and the wreaths from the walls and halls,
the Christmas trees, lights, and Chrismons,
the candles, the Advent wreaths, the creches,
putting them all away in boxes and closets until next year,
dragging the trees out to the curb,
sweeping up the needles,
it struck me how intentional we were through Advent
about preparing the sanctuary for worship—
all the better to prepare our selves for worship.

Each week a new banner went up
(one outside, to see as we drove up,
one inside, to see as we entered the sanctuary),
a new candle was lit,
trees were added—poinsettias,
the nativity figures were moved around the sanctuary
in correspondence to their individual journeys to Bethlehem.
Something wonderful about all that—
the regular accommodation of place to meaning to facilitate worship.
But we rarely do as much ….
And I wondered whether to wish we did.

Maybe it’s enough though—those five/six Sundays of the year—
enough to help us, all the other Sundays, know to cultivate the eyes to see
to see our sanctuary decked with the joyful laughter of children,
hung with the prayers and praise of the people,
decorated with the rich resonance of promises made and tears shed,
festooned with the God-story tightly braided into our own,
adorned with the wonder of ongoing conversations and relationships,
graced with our own great cloud of witnesses,
luminous with the lives of the faithful.

Something wonderful about all that—
the cumulative meaning of a community of faith in place—
living worship.


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