Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Big Show

The parish next door to where I live, St. Francis Xavier, has been going through an enormous renovation for the last year. It's been an enormous undertaking -- the church is big and old and had lots of peeling paint and inadequate lighting.

About five months ago I was in there for Mass on a Sunday. And I noticed that at the entrance, these huge pieces of cloth from the painters hung down from either side of the center doors like the curtains at a theater. As you recessed out, those painting sheets framed the outside as though it were the stage that we were walking out onto.

It's a great image for us at the end of Mass. In a way, Church is our way station, it's the place we return to again and again for renewal and, if you will, course correction. And the world, that is our stage, the place where we try to put the challenging ideas of the Lord into practice and help God build his kingdom of mercy and justice. Oftentimes it's the place where we discover the face of God, as well.

It's easy to read the story of salvation and think it's someone else's story, a whole lot of someone elses, Adam and Eve and Abram and Sarai and Moses and Jesus and the disciples -- it happened to all of them, and we're the beneficiaries of it.

But that's not right. Nobody's still writing about us in scripture, maybe, but as Christians we believe that we're part of that same story, that the history of salvation continues with us, and that we have roles to play.

Most churches don't have curtains on the doors reminding us of the fact. Maybe they should. Because for us, truly, all the world is a stage, and we are its players.