Preparing the Environment

We are to prepare the environment for worship; that is different from decorating the church. How can an environment which is beautiful and reverent and "clearly invites and needs an assembly to complete it" be designed to invite the assembly into an experience of the holy? We would remember that the whole space is the arena for environment--not just the "sanctuary" area in the front. How can we begin to create a worthy environment even as people approach the church building? Does the narthex provide an uncluttered, hospitable welcome to the Lord's people, or is it a marketplace for the selling of wares of every kind and an eternal billboard of flyers and notices? What colors, textures, and symbols reflect the season or feast?

One of the most important tasks of those who prepare the environment may be to simplify: to remove whatever is not used or needed in the space so that the primary focal points stand out more clearly; to get rid of clutter; to make the altar and ambo accessible to movement rather than enveloping them with overwhelming arrangements of flowers, plants, candles; to use banners and textiles which are beautiful in shape and design and movement, but are not signboards filled with words -- there are many ways to say "alleluia"--without using letters!