This is such a thought-provoking topic!
In my first reflection on Sacred Space, I wrote wherever God and the People of God meet is Sacred Space and a Sacred Place; whenever they meet each other is Sacred Time. More about some Sacred Space ideas: I often recall and remember the countless times I’ve dreamed, imagined, meditated, prayed, reflected and just been there in a church or cathedral sanctuary both in this country and in Europe. Over and over again I recapture the sense of the sacred I’ve experienced in those rooms. “Holy” because the sacraments are celebrated in those places and spaces, “sanctified” because there God and people have encountered each other and covenanted with each other; in those sanctuaries people have entered covenant and reaffirmed covenanted relationship with each other and with their God.
And I’ve long been moved by the church building’s being central – literally “in the center,” – at the heart – when the town first was built. In much of Europe the church was the cultural, economic, political, religious and social core…in a plethora of towns in many countries the farmer’s and craft markets still happen in the gathering place around the church.
Throughout the biblical witness are many images of the people of God, but for me the most potent and telling one is that of the Church as the Body of the Risen Christ, proclaiming the death of the old order and the birth of the new. God calls [Martin Luther’s Small Catechism: “…calls, gathers and enlightens the church…”] the Church to Presence and Proclamation. Because we know the Church as the Body of the Risen Christ, in those city squares the church is a real, physical – a tangible, visible – proclamation of the church’s presence in the center of the people, public evidence and public declaration of the resurrection. What’s more, the sound of church bells and carillons makes that proclamation audible! The church in the square conveys an inspiring image of Sacred Space to all the people.
The church building’s authority, the tower, bells, the carillon – and the cross – all are an unyielding presence filling the whole community. In sight and in sound they’re a consolation to the community, a reminder that the presence of the church is the presence and proclamation of the at once Crucified and Risen One.