The Church Deserves Better than Ugly Decorations
1987 called. It wants its tissue box cover back. You know the one, made by hand in colonial blue and dusty rose calico.
Author David Murrow appears to have found the final resting place of this artifact in the churches he's visited. He excerpted a section from his book, How Women Help Men Find God, in a blog post entitled "Does Your Church Look Like A Beauty Parlor?", describing the country-folksy décor in some small and mid-sized church buildings:
As I speak in churches, I notice the beauty salon motif everywhere. Quilted banners and silk flower arrangements adorn church lobbies. More quilts, banners, and ribbons cover the sanctuary walls, complemented with fresh flowers on the altar, a lace doily on the Communion table, and boxes of Kleenex under every pew.
I've never been inside a beauty salon like that, but I have seen enough churches adorned with the discards from fading home decorating trends to picture the dated décor in women's bathrooms, lobbies, and sanctuary spaces of various older churches.
Murrow contends that girly décor in a church building is off-putting to men. Well, it's off-putting to many women, too.
In the Old Testament, the tabernacle, then the temple, were entirely other and completely different than the homes of his people. That is to say, no one would bring in the ancient equivalent of a toilet paper cover or wall-hanging to adorn such a holy place.
God himself prescribed the design of these buildings to show his people what he was like and how they could worship him. These holy sanctuaries were "a copy and shadow of what is in heaven" (Heb. 8:5), serving as the spiritual home for his people until in the fullness of time, Jesus himself fulfilled the beautiful temple's role as he became for us priest, sacrifice and sanctuary.
Our gathering spaces are secondary to the reality that the Lord is among us whenever and wherever we gather. Our Jesus-following spiritual forebears gathered to connect with one another in homes, catacombs, prison cells, and under the shelter of forest canopy. In many places in the world, they still do. Of course, many of these Jesus-following forebears also built and gathered for worship in church buildings.
Whether a breathtaking cathedral, a simple adobe building echoing the desert landscape, or a space enclosed by steel, glass and light, these sacred spaces had an entirely different purpose and function than that of a family home. A church building was (and is) a place for the community of called-out ones to worship, pray, learn, and share communion.
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