“Why did we ever retreat into the sanctuary in the first place?”
Without delving into a lot of history and in this short space necessarily leaving out the multitude of vital functions the cathedral church assumed earlier on, especially in Europe, that whole sanctuary development has a lot to do with the rationalization and bureaucratization of Christianity ...and, as Max Weber pointed out, when religion becomes rationalized – and maybe denominationalized! – with a dichotomy between professional and non-professional (“lay?”) practitioners, that’s when the division between sacred and secular begins really big-time, and often assumes horrendous proportions, as in the Jerusalem Temple. And “horrendous proportions” as in the late Medieval church, as well, though always there have been faithful and even re-forming individuals and movements.
But modulating into a different key, I also love thinking of the church sanctuary as a place of safety, of prayer and worship, and a place where God and the people of God meet in a unique and focused way, preparing the people to recognize God’s presence wherever God and people encounter each other. In this context I need to refer to the sacraments again, since not only does God come to us with specific and special grace in the sacraments, as well as helping us remember Whose we are, but the Eucharist particularly forms one of the ways God enters our world in common, routine and everyday things and ordinary, day-by-day actions – like breaking bread and sharing a meal!
“ ...it’s important to remember we’re “marketing” the gospel, not the church! I think there’s a big danger in confusing the two. Don’t you?
Marian, yes, oh wow – thanks for the reminder this is about the gospel and about the church as one of the various vehicles that can convey the gospel...however, we also need to remember the Church is the Body of the Risen Christ!
“...maybe that should be return the church to the marketplace! Remember Luke 5:1-11?”
Called from where we are right now to go where the Spirit leads! I’ve heard that called “the mark of the stable” – begin where God says! :)