Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Church Without Christ

While traveling in New York (to be at my niece's wedding), I was in an art gallery, and saw paintings of this church, the "Nieuwe kerk" ("new church") in Holland.

I was struck by this painting. How barren and lifeless and Christ-less is the building! It could just as easily be a synagogue or mosque. There is no sense of Christ's presence, or of the presence of the saints surrounding those there to receive God's blessings. No sense that this is a house of prayer, or that it is the house of God.

I have heard the usual arguments, that it's not "necessary" to have icons or crucifixes, and of course, that's true. We can have a church without any of those. Of course, we could attend church naked, too, and it would make about as much sense.

I'm wondering why "necessity" has come to define the worship of the LCMS, as if what had to happen in an emergency seems to define what should happen in non-emergency situations.

Of course, we can worship without the Icons of God and the Saints. Christians under persecution have done so. But we are not under persecution. Why should our houses of God look as though we were? (I'm struck by something I read a while back about old churches in Cairo. The Moslems tolerated Christian worship, as long as it was not visible, so churches blended in, looking -- on the outside -- as though they were apartment buildings or houses. But on the inside, even in those times of duress from unbelievers, it looked like a church).

It's not "necessary" to kiss my wife, to talk to my children, to play, to laugh, or whatever. But whoever thinks in those terms? And why do we in the LCMS think in terms like that about our receiving the gifts of Almighty God?

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