In the Liberal Catholic lectionary, which I tend to follow, today’s epistle is from the first chapter of Colossians. We read that Christ is “the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.”
Yesterday, I had lunch with a group of friends, including a couple who belong to the local Hindu temple. We discussed how, in many ancient temple cultures, the primary focus of a temple is simply tending to the Deity. Any community which may arise is secondary. Perhaps the closest parallel in Christianity can be found in some Catholic and Orthodox churches which remain open, with worshippers constantly coming and going, communing with the divine, lighting candles, making offerings, and then silently continuing on their way. I once lived near such a parish in Manhattan (St Jean-Baptiste) with 24-7 eucharistic adoration, and a number of shrines.
In the creation of alternative christian sacramental life today, the first focus is often the construction of a community which meets (or tries to meet) the emotional needs of the participants. What would happen if we shifted all the energy to simply building a temple (not a physical structure, but an inner reality) through which Christ can be given pre-eminence, allowing his life to flow through to us in sacramental worship? Any community which might arise would then happen organically, as the shared Christ-Life knits us together in whatever way it chooses, making us “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” – which might look nothing like coffee hour or sunday school.