I walked the halls of the mall and sat to watch the liturgy around me. Liturgy means "work of the people". There is a liturgy at hand wherever we go. I sat to pay attention to how the 'congregants' enter. How are they prepared to work and worship in various ways? What is worshiped in this 'temple'? What do the congregants come to seek? What satisfaction do they find? I also wanted to see how the liturgies of the mall are similar or different from the liturgies of the church. What should be the same or different? Here are some of my reflections.
* People wait for the doors to open. They are anxious for the gates to open. * We are made to move and browse here. Anything you want can be found. If you were stranded, you could have nearly anything you need. * What seems to be worshiped are things and material goods, but I think that is only on the surface. I am worshiped here. I will be adorned by anything I want. I will be given anything I want to look and appear better or more acceptable. I can think of very little here that I really need. * I define my own ritual here. I only go to stores I wish to go and disregard the others. * Congregants are addressed and pushed to purchase things they do not need or want as though they are missing their opportunity. But they are addressed with learned techniques. "How are you doing sir?" "That is jacket is nice!" "Are you happy with your current service?"--all this in hopes I will engage enough to see and hear about a product I never needed in the first place * Interesting that young people are taught to do this in flawless form. * Aside from fulfillment of its congregants, what about its 'priests' and 'ministers' who wait with eyes wide open at the doors for the next pitch and hook? Are they fulfilled by the sell and the hook?
In Matthew 23:37, Jesus looks over Jerusalem and says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
I sat and imagined what the heart of Jesus might pray over this mall: ----------- O people, I have loved you and desired to give you peace and fulfillment you can only dream of. All the things you think you need are attempts to fill a sinking boat with more things. I have longed to fill the holes that take on water so your life will be truly full, so your heart and soul will feel and BE safe. I have longed for you to recognize your value instead of trying to create it.
Your are unwilling. You are distracted by so many other pitches and slogans and hooks, that you have neglected my invitation. ------- Then I heard the still small voice: "PC, in this 'church' today, hear my prayer over you as well.