Every once and awhile I hear a Christian say, “Church shouldn’t be a spectacle.” It’s usually in the context of calling out some other church as having too many “hip” songs or “flashy” lights. Or putting down another preacher for the way they “entertain” their congregation. And while I’ll leave those “topics” to your own bias or interpretation, I’d like you to consider with me for a moment how spectacles can look like God’s ideal for the Church.
This weekend I went to downtown San José to la Catedral Metropolitana (Costa Rica’s national cathedral) to watch the national symphony perform with a choir and several opera soloists for FREE. Yes, it was as cool as sounds.
I got chills as I sat in the hard, wooden, church pew. Closing my eyes, I tried to escape into another reality for any moment of time as the cathedral filled with the sounds of the symphony and the breeze from the cool night air.
But, as the sounds of car alarms, babies crying and a nearby protest seeped into the room, I found myself back in reality. Yet, I’m thankful for those elements because they allowed me to see something unexpected. Opening my eyes, I looked around a saw a beautiful thing. Inside one of the most controversial institutions on the planet were hundreds of people.
Businessmen and women, mothers, children, grandparents, the homeless, the foreigners, the students, the beggar, the religious and the rebels. Those who planned to be there and those who walked in from the street. All in one grand room. Peering over the person in front of them to catch a glimpse of the spectacle. Kids wrapped themselves around the pillars of the cathedral hoping to see the source of the sounds that enamored them. Everyone. Standing. Sitting. Eyes forward. Focused on the same thing.
It was beautiful. It was the ideal Church.
Not a denomination. Not a theology. Not an obligation.
People were amazed.
Full of awe and wonder.
Rich and poor. Young and old. Women and men.
One spectacle. One focus. One purpose.
When spectacles are free, everyone shows up.
The invitation has no standard. No limit. No dress code.
What if we stopped trying to avoid making Jesus a spectacle and allow him to be exactly that:
“Something that can be seen, especially something of a remarkable or impressive nature….unusual and notable” [Webster Dictionary]
What if people couldn’t help but gather, astonished as they hear about the most dramatic and remarkable Person in history?….last time I checked, hope, freedom and resurrection from the dead are still alarmingly spectacular.
Perhaps we’re scarred. Because maybe that’s exactly what would happen.
All peoples would be intrigued. Amazed. Awestruck. Curious.
And worst of all, all people would enter into our “sacred” spaces.
Our community groups. Our sanctuaries. Our homes. All packed with people with nothing in common. Nothing but the hope of encountering something spectacular.
Who are we kidding?
Jesus is a spectacle.
And he freely invites all people to come and awe.
[Luke 5:26] “They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
[Matthew 9:8] “When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God”
[Matthew 7:28] “After he had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed…when he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.”
[Luke 4:32] “He (Jesus) was teaching them on the Sabbath; and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.”
[Luke 1:65] “All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things.”
[Rev. 22:17] “Come! Whoever is thirsty; let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the FREE gift of the water of life.”