The church I attend meets in a rented space in a store front. There is no altar- just an empty area that gets filled with wires & sound equipment on Sunday mornings. We have individual chairs instead of pews. Our songs aren't found in books or seared into the memory by repetition- they're contemporary & projected on a screen for all to see. There is no kneeling, no crossing of one's self, no formal prayers to be said. There is no call & response, no iconography, no semblance of ancient tradition really. We sing, we pray & we have snacks a plenty at break time. We come & go as we please in our shorts & flip flops, coffee in one hand, Bible in another. I'm not trying to belittle my church- its a whole different ballgame when you consider denominational differences & the personalities of those who attend. Its a gathering place where the emphasis isn't on externals so much as the internal response to God. But I admittedly have trouble with the sensory deficit.
Yes, Jesus was born of flesh in a cave or a barn or a manger. Yes, He was poor & walked among us for 30 some odd years teaching us to love one another. But what is it He returned to when He left this earth? He didn't go back to a double wide with faux paneled walls & rust coloured curtains. He didn't crack open a beer in celebration of His victory over death & sink into a tattered La-Z-Boy with the remote control. He was "like us" for but a moment. When He returned to Heaven, He sat down at the right hand of God. Not too shabby. How quickly we forget that this is where He came from. In our quest to gain freedom from traditional church practices, what is it that reminds us the Holy is "wholly other"?