Get Out of Church!Posted: June 21, 2010
“Mass on the Grass.” “Preach at the Beach.” It’s not that they have to rhyme. But whenever I offer outdoor liturgies it just seems to work out that way. Sure, it helps with the marketing. “Mass on the Grass” sounds a lot better than “Eucharist on the Turf” and “Preach at the Beach” has a certain ring that gets lost with “Divine Liturgy on the Sand.”
But the reason I like to hold services outside is to make the point that while the church might be God’s House, God is not under house arrest. God is much bigger than even the most sacred space. The incarnational nature of Jesus cannot be contained within four walls. Even four wall that have a bunch of Tiffany windows.
Some of the most memorable liturgical moments can happen outside church buildings. Many have had profound spiritual experiences at off-site parish retreats, camp sites, or house blessings. One of the beauties of a house blessing, for example, is that it indelibly turns a home into sacred space. It is a place of daily routine and the very essence of everyday life but it is also a place of prayer, a place where humanity continually reaches out for relationship with the divine. A service in a church courtyard or in a city square or on a lakefront or in a forest preserve does much the same thing. It shatters the false barrier that exists between the sacred and the secular, reminding us again that there is no secular world. It is all sacred because it is all created at God’s hand.
So on this first day of summer, here’s a radical idea: don’t go to church! Or at least go to church outside your church building. Look for an outdoor eucharist or encourage your priest to offer liturgy outside. I highly recommend it and this is the perfect time of year to get out of our liturgical boxes.
And if you can find something that rhymes with “eucharist,” I’m all ears.