Many parts of a church are used for waiting? The narthex is at the entrance of the church, a meeting area just inside the Western entrance. The narthex was for those who were NOT allowed to enter the sanctuary and worship area, they were the unbaptized. Therefore it exists like a waiting area for catechisms and penitents who could stand and hear the sermon without actually participating. Humanity is on the cusp of change, in a kind of church narthex in our hearts and minds. How many of are living in the Narthex, almost in sacred space but lost in the world, standing outside undecided or hesitant? The narthex is included in parts of a church because it represents a transition area, and we are ready for transition.
The Climate is Changing
It will not be easy for humanity to recover from the climate we have created in our congregations or the climate devastation which threatens our planet. We need to change our behavior on both counts. A new and re-formed church will change again, and perhaps more drastically than any of us care to imagine. Our leaders and spiritual elders must come together to teach and nurture us new ways to be in the world.
The old community paradigms fixated on the preservation of their institutions and centered on rules, rituals and established behaviors. Our justifications for who we are have propped up patriotic national supremacy, capitalism, and unrestrained growth for power and money. This is not Christlike behavior. Our rampant egotism is destroying our societies and the planet. We can no longer avoid examining our prejudice, which has harmed others all the while thinking we are children of God. Our creativity and advancements have grown so fast, with no spirituality to keep it all in check. God’s creation is the unfortunate recipient of our negligence.
Almost in a church but Lost in the World
Priests and spiritual leaders have long known the bible’s excellent teachings, rituals and sacrament. The community has the obligation to integrate those teachings into their daily life. Someone once pointed out to me, the liturgist has all the fun in the best parts of a church. They parade around, wearing sparkly clothes, swinging incense and use sacred implements while speaking holy words. They give their grace and wisdom and we sit quietly, watching. The passive audience in all parts of a church has not taught us to bring divine understanding or sacred holiness into their daily lives. As a result, we walk around in the world as lost children, thinking it is enough to go to church every so often.
It is not OK to Live in the Narthex
How can we be transformed by the grace of Christ living in us? How can we stop waiting for someone to speak for us? I’ll tell you. Study, ask, debate, inform, stand tall, be brave; to change all this will not be easy. We are being called to a new level of honesty and individuality. To live in the narthex is to stand in the dark, alone, instead of walking in the light in a relationship with everyone and all of creation. Unlike the liturgical priest, administering as one actor isolated on a stage, we are called to be in communion. God is with us, who blessed us with knowing there is a wholeness in the chaos of a climate change. We are not lost in parts of a church; we Are church.