As part of our discernment, the committee has been discussing the concept of “noble beauty.” In some ways this discussion echoes the Supreme Court’s decision saying “We’ll know it when we see it.” The Supremes were talking about another topic, but the idea that a description can be limiting is important.
For me, noble beauty is the use of the best available materials and best available workmanship to create something that works for greater glory to God. We must ask ourselves, “Who are we saving the best for if not for God.” This echoes what Jesus himself said in the Gospel of John which we heard last Monday:
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one (of) his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12:2-10)
This doesn’t mean that the committee can go wild. For example, we can’t spend the entire budget on a solid gold baptismal font. But we can insist that beautiful and noble materials be used for our church. If the committee gets it right, we’ll all know it when we see it.
For example, this is noble beauty:
This is not noble beauty: