The funeral was in the church that was the city’s most famous landmark. Inside, there were vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows on each side and tiered rows of seating. The music from the Casavant Frères organ that filled the east wall, its largest pipes stretching from floor to ceiling, completed the atmosphere of reverence.
The minister entered at the lower level, wearing a cassock. He walked up the spiral staircase to the pulpit and said, “Let us pray.” Then he recited a poem. There was no “Our Father” at the beginning, no “In Jesus’ name, Amen” at the end. Just a poem. Later, in his homily, he told us that eternal life was the memories that we retained of our dear departed.
That was it. Behind all the man-made magnificence there was only emptiness.
The tabernacle in the wilderness had great beauty inside. But only the priests were allowed to enter and see that beauty. From the outside, its waterproof covering gave it a gray, drab appearance. The onlooker could see nothing striking or appealing about the tabernacle. Except for that inexplicable column of cloud that was always there, and as the day became dark that column became light. It was the evidence of God’s presence in the midst of His people.
When Christians gather for worship, we should not be in awe of the magnificence of the building, the excitement in the music or the eloquence in the preaching. We should be asking ourselves, “Is this a place where I can meet with God?”
In Colossians 3:11 the apostle Paul speaks of Christians who are of different ethnic and social identities, then says “but Christ is all, and in all.” We may be worshipping among plain and rather drab people. But if we see glimpses of the presence of Jesus Christ in each of those around us, then we are in the place where God can speak to us and bless us.