Minister’s Moment, June 2018
Have you ever paid $12 to see a two-hour movie in the theater and had a spiritual experience? What made this experience so powerful? Did you even realize how much time went by? I am willing to bet you were completely immersed in the experience, never once taken out of the moment to notice what time it was. You were fully engaged through beautiful images, music, and drama, captivated by the story, and, by the end of the film, given new eyes to see the world a little bit differently. You were transformed through art.
There is no reason why worship can’t be just like this. Like a good film, good worship engages all of the senses to tell a story and inspire people through beauty and art. It uses music, visual arts, spoken word, and action or “drama” to create an all-inclusive, transformative experience.
This is not a new idea. In Art and Religion (1921) Unitarian minister and worship theorist Von Ogden Vogt said that “beauty is desirable and good” and that good worship engages beauty in every way. He said, “the art of worship is an all-comprehending art. No other art can satisfy the demand of human nature for an all-inclusive experience.”
This is possible at Peoples Church. Sensory-rich, all-inclusive, don’t-care-what-time-it-is worship is possible when we approach it as an art form and pay attention to beauty.
To learn more about this concept, David Wise and I recently attended the Worship Design Studio, a workshop led by world-renowned worship designer Marcia McFee. We discovered that high-quality worship is like a film-every element contributes to the overall feel of the experience, including the worship space. The colors, décor, seating, cleanliness, energy and feel of the sanctuary communicate more than we realize in worship. A film director wouldn’t film a light, uplifting part of a movie in a dark cave, nor what she film an intimate, tender moment in a stark, sterile room. Setting matters. Space matters. Beauty matters.
For these reasons, not to mention the rich connection with our history the windows provide, I am absolutely thrilled that we are moving forward with installing the Rose and Star stained glass windows in the sanctuary. The design the Aesthetics and Windows Teams came up with and the congregation voted on is absolutely gorgeous and I believe it will make a huge difference in our worship lives!
Making our sanctuary more beautiful has the power to elevate souls, connect us with the Holy and help facilitate rich, healing, inspiring, transformative experiences in worship. So, next time you see a Windows or Aesthetics Team Member be sure to thank them for all the good work they are doing!