Yesterday, while attending my daughter’s soccer game in St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick, I walked by one of the many gorgeous little churches that dot the landscape. I wanted to see if the door was open, to satisfy my lifelong fascination with church architecture.
I could hear echoes of people speaking in unison as I entered the small breezeway at the side of St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church. There, in the stunning, mid-sized sanctuary, I saw 8 people scattered throughout the pews. A priest, clearly of African descent by his skin and his accent, was dressed in beautiful white robes garnished with a gold collar as he led the proceedings.
I felt for a moment that I was in the deep south on a hot summer’s night, standing wistfully outside of a revival meeting happening on a local campground. Peeking through the screen door that seperated the breezeway from the sanctuary, I hear familiar words.
“Now, let us extend the Peace Of Christ to one another.” The eight gray-haired people within turned to one another, smiled and exchanged the words, “The peace of Christ be with you.”
In my mind’s eye I saw that beautiful sanctuary packed with teens and twenties, accented with both younger and older worshipers, exchanging the Peace Of Christ with laughter, hugs, joy and expectation.
The priest continued on with his liturgy, host to those 8 worshipers in the room, and I walked away both joyful and saddened by what I had just seen.
I am joyful that worship happens, and that space is created for attention and devotion to be directed to God. I am saddened that such aesthetic beauty and such wonderful liturgical ideas aren’t mingled with contemporary forms as primary shapers of many young worshipers today.