With the religious practices of the traditional church evolving and emerging within the context of the 21st century, one cornerstone of the church remains constant – that is, the value found in the cultivation of relationship. I view one of the most sacred spaces in the community of the church to be the space that exists within relationship.
Sacred spaces in the religious setting, are typically viewed as those tangible places present within the church community that have deep personal spiritual meaning. Although there is no doubt in the sacredness of our relationship to these places, what I have discovered, is that if I take the “place” out of the equation of a sacred space, I find that all I am left with is a “relationship” – and that is beautiful.
What I have experienced in applying what I have learned this semester from our online In-service Degree graduate course seminar: “Ministry in the 21st Century Context: Challenges and Possibilities” at the Boston University School of Theology, is that sacred spaces have a point of origin that exist beyond the walls of a church and outside the serenity found in a chapel. Spend a day hiking with a group of youth in the White Mountains, and you might understand exactly what I mean… Relationships are sacred.
By honoring the sacred place where relationship resides, we are able to better serve the “present human experience” of the contexts to which we are called. In treating the relationship as a sacred space, we create more opportunities to connect the diversity of the human experience in relationship to God.
In a Podcast on YouTube about the use of Social Media in the church, Nadia Bolz-Weber, author and Lutheran Pastor, describes the importance of valuing relationships in her ministry beyond the walls of a traditional place of worship. It is in her willingness to honor the relationship verses the space in which the relationship is built that resignated with me. In the podcast, Nadia asks,”how can we create spaces where people who can bring the entirety of who they are (into that space)..?” This questions brings to mind the Gospel of Matthew, where the sacred space of relationship exists as that space where two or more gather, where God is most present, and where love exists in communal form.
The use of creativity and imagination will be needed at all times in building relationships. The youth I work with seem to be the most skilled at creatively maintaining the sacred qualities of relationship. It is important that as leaders we approach the creation of sacred spaces as we would in the creation of a beautiful altar scape that draws in your attention and enhances the spiritual experience of a theological message..
It is vital to be open to each other when attempting to form a creative and sacred space for relationships to grow in love and grace. In his book: Intuitive Leadership: Embracing a Paradigm of Narrative, Metaphor & Chaos, author Tim Keel asks a vital question that I would like to continue to reflect upon , “What might it look like to actually love people, separate from agendas and predetermined notions of progress, spiritual or otherwise?” (p.118)
Imagine the beauty found in that sacred space…