Confession: If I were choosing a Meadville area church to attend based on the beauty of the building, I would choose either
St. Mary of Grace (Water St),
which is the darlingest,
or First Presbyterian (Liberty St), which is the most beautiful.
I would uh… not choose 312 Baldwin St.
a sanctuary by way of relish house, thrift shop, and bulk food store.
But this is where I belong, for many excellent reasons—among which is the fact that I am in a relationship with one of the pastors.
Our church house is ugly outside and in constant renovation inside, which means mishmash… a mix of aging tile, stained carpet, plywood, and country wallpaper borders.
But I find friendship there, and roots, and vibrant worship.
The heart can rise above its surroundings to worship the Lord anywhere, even in squalor (which we know nothing of). What bothers me is that none of us LIVE in houses like this—possibly excepting the Zooks, who are now living in a little messy renovation of their own. Do we care less about the house in which we meet to worship? Shouldn’t we give it more attention, not less? I offer kudos to our trustees, who are currently working as hard as they can…
Sometimes we Mennonites have been proud of ugliness (God forbid) because it’s “plain.” Sometimes we have been embarrassed by simplicity (God forbid) because it’s “ugly.” I hope neither is true at Meadville Mennonite Chapel. We all hate the mishmash together, and chip in money as often as we can, but in the end our building will be plain. No doubt ’bout.
Is that because we believe in it?
Or can’t afford better?
Or don’t care?
I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to walk up to one of the beautiful buildings above each Sunday morning. Would it make a difference?
What do you think? Does beauty affect worship?