from secular to sacred

inside the Cathedral-Basilica at St. Augustine

inside the Cathedral-Basilica at St. Augustine

This past weekend, Christina and I had a weekend off (which was awesome) and went to St. Augustine. We walked around the downtown area often, and there were always street musicians to be heard while meandering through the sometimes-quaint-sometimes-touristy shops.

When we were going into the St. Augustine Cathedral-Basilica, there was one of these street performers. He was playing the harmonica with one hand, hitting a tambourine hanging from his belt loop with the other hand, and using one of his feet to play some sleigh-bell looking things. It was interesting.

Another window in the Cathedral

Another window in the Cathedral

So we go from this sight and sound, enter through heavy wooden doors to a whole new sight and sound inside the cathedral. The lights are lower, the sound outside is muffled. The music, being played low, is Gregorian chant, music created specifically for the church and its liturgy.

There is definitely something different in this space, as compared to the hustle and bustle of the outside street corner.

Between the outside and inside there seemed to be a disturbing clash. The two did not match up. I kept picturing the harmonica guy inside the church- what would that look like?

Ever since Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the line between sacred and secular does not get darker or more pronounced, but the secular is now banished. Jesus is making all things new.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, l in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created o through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Col. 1:15-20

Crucifix in St. Augustines Cathedral

Crucifix in St. Augustine's Cathedral

The reality is not that the harmonica guy was not sacred enough, it is that we don’t recognize him as some kind of sacred, part of the “all things” that Colossians speaks of. How do we see Christ redeeming him? In all his human earthiness, between the wrong notes and spastic tambourine slaps, we see ourselves. Christ invites him into his house, gives him freedom to play his music and even sings along.

I will tell of your name to my brothers;

in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise. Heb 2:12

Christ comes alongside him (and us), and is not afraid to say, “You are mine.”

3 thoughts on “from secular to sacred

  1. Scott, it really is beautiful and it’s a shame that 99% of Protestants don’t incorporate beauty like that into their buildings.
    Good to hear from ya, I check out your new (to me) blog and found this pertinent:

    I’ve noticed right away that when non-denoms spend money, it’s on theater equipment, while the Orthodox and Catholics spend it on prettying up the place. If you go into a local megachurch, you feel like you’ve entered an entertainment hall. When you go into an Orthodox church, you feel like you’ve entered a temple devoted to some kind of deity, as though Christianity were some sort of religion.

  2. Pingback: greg willson » Blog Archive » from sacred to secular

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