Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Awe-some architecture

Last week was mainly spent with my lovely wife being tourists in Barcelona. Its somewhere we'd always wanted to visit and a sabbatical was the perfect excuse to farm the kids off to the in-laws and hop-it overseas for the first time together.

There was much about Barcelona to love, the climate, the culture, the art but what will really stick in our memories was the visit to Sagrada Familia - the stunning cathedral, still under construction, designed by Antoni Gaudi. Im not a huge architecture person, I enjoy historic buildings as much as the next person, a beautiful stained glass window may take my eye, but on the whole I'm usually left fairly non-plussed by buildings. The Sagrada Familia was different - I was encouraged to go by friends, but little could prepare me for the incredible awe-inspiring experience of being inside this masterpiece, built intentionally for the glory of God.

Im guilty of cheapening awe. My language and vocabulary regularly describe things or experiences as 'awesome' when they are far from that, often just mundane or ordinary. But this cathedral was different. A description and even pictures don't do it justice, (I've posted some anyway), this was a place that literally took my breath away as I experienced what Gaudi had always hoped and prayed would be the case - a glimpse of the glory of God.

I like space and stillness and this building was crammed with tourists all snapping away, yet still the overwhelming sense of the heaviness of the presence of the Lord was not lost - rarely, if ever, has a building, architecture, imaginative and creative use of light and stone, imagery and craftsmanship drawn me to close to the God of heaven and earth.

So this led me to reflect in the last few days, have we lost a sense of awe and wonder? I was certain that it was the Maker of heaven and earth and cathedrals that I was in awe of, His creation, His creativity, His innovation, His light, His glorious colour, His presence. But I'm surrounded by these things every day, yet I embody little in the way of awe. When we gather for worship there may be reverence, there may be deep-rooted integrity, there may be a longing and hunger for more of the Lord in our lives, but its a while since I was aware of being in awe and wonder at the goodness and glory of God.

So for me the challenge in these next days is to live with an increasing sense of awe and wonder at the glory of God - glimpses of which are all around us. Maybe the church would be a more spectacular place too, if we were able to regain a sense of awe once again when we gather intentionally aware of the presence of the King of all Kings.

1 comment:

MJB said...

Thank you for this, Gareth, the opportunity to experience through your eyes a building which speaks of God.