Holy Innocents’ — Making Its Mark
- The Rev. Bob Dannals
- Feb 13, 2018
- Blog Feed
The center aisle of Holy Innocents’ is symbolic, iconic of the life-transforming events that happen there — It’s the walk of decision, of commitment, of action. While the walk in our space is not long, it is down the aisle that we make choices each and every week to hear again the gospel and respond.
For most of us, it was down the center aisle of a church that we were presented for Baptism. In that ancient liturgy we were literally “marked as Christ’s own forever.”
If we were regular in attendance, there were literally hundreds of times that we stepped into the aisle to receive the body and blood of Christ.
When we reached our teen years, many of us ventured up a middle aisle to kneel in prayer with a bishop to receive the laying on of hands in Confirmation.
During our adult years our walk up the aisle might have been to make vows to a spouse, or to be a priest, or to be commissioned as a teacher, nursery worker or outreach missioner, or to receive the laying on of hands and anointing with oil in the healing rite.
And finally, you and I, as a beloved’s casket or cremains — or our own — are brought up the aisle, and we hear again those penetrating words: “I am the resurrection and the life,” says the Lord, “whoever has faith in me shall have life.”
The center aisle of Holy Innocents’ Church is an outward and visible sign of the journey of faith and of community life. Thus, this community is what could be called a “thick community” — a community that leaves its mark on you.
What makes a church thick?
A thick community is not one that people use instrumentally, to make contacts or merely try to get ahead. A thick community becomes part of a person’s identity and engages the whole person: head, hands, heart and soul. So a thick congregation has a special physical location, where participants meet face to face on a weekly basis, like a dinner table or a packed assembly hall. Such thick parishes have set rituals that build solidarity and help people find belonging and their niches in life. They have shared service, shared meals, shared trials, shared joys, shared victories.
Such parishes tell and retell the sacred story. Many experience moments of recovery, restoration, forgiveness, healing, and wholeness. Music, both formal and informal, is part of this narrative. Storytelling, laughter, encouragement and sheer joy are central aspects of the community. And, outreach to the neighbor and the stranger are core actions of a thick church.
Holy Innocents’ is thick. Holy Innocents’ makes its mark!
Thanks be to God.