Atmosphere. I am big on atmosphere, especially when working. I cannot work effectively until my house or office is clean. I work even better when I have a candle on or some light instrumental music playing in the background. In this particular season of Christmas, I work EVEN BETTER when my Christmas tree is lit and my fireplace is providing a slight crackling noise in the background. In fact, that is what I am hearing as I write this post.
So why is it that atmosphere has such an impact on our hearts and souls? Why do we feel a sense of calm when our house has just been cleaned? Why do we instantly become happy at the smell of cookies in the oven or the sound of a fireplace crackling? Why do we feel suddenly comfortable when our toes hit the carpet in our family rooms? ATMOSPHERE. The definition of “atmosphere” (in the way that I am using the word) is: a special mood or character associated with a place.
So how does atmosphere relate to corporate worship? Well, I believe that just as atmosphere effects our moods at home and work, the atmosphere in which we worship together at our church can either draw us closer or further away from encountering God. For example, when it is cold in the worship center, all I can think about is wanting a jacket. When there is a crying baby next to me, all I can think about is how much I want to tell the dad to take his little girl out of the room. Alternatively, when the lighting is dim, it creates a mood of reverence. And when the room is full of singing voices, there is a sense of awe from the people worshipping with all they have.
Our church in particular always decorates the campus for Christmas. I love this about our church because it always feels so festive! This year, we have large paintings up on the wall that were created to show different ministries that are happening at the church, like Celebrate Recovery and our local outreaches. We also have testimonies and stories from real people in our church posted up on the walls. This last week, people were drawn to God because of authenticity and transparency within the vibe of the room. The pictures and stories created a mood that reminded everyone of the real meaning of Christmas. Amazing! I believe that no matter what season it may be, the atmospheres in our churches should always point to God and God alone. So that when we come together to worship, we are immediately aware of His presence.
May you be inspired this Christmas season to create an atmosphere full of love and peace and joy within your homes, workplaces, and places of worship… because ATMOSPHERE matters! Merry Christmas!