A message to our church, WPC, from J. Philip Newell's One Foot in Eden: A Celtic View of the Stages of Life:
Jesus' cleansing of the temple expressed his depth of inner passion. This was no superficial religious concern. Its parallel today is not a fastidious protectiveness of our church sanctuaries from all noise and liveliness. Rather the Mystery that was guarded in the half-light of the temple, and the love of God that was taught in the Scriptures and ritual of the sacred place, pointed to the Holiness and the Love that are at the heart of all life. Jesus' outrage was motivated not by a liturgical fanaticism for decorum in the temple but by a passionate desire to reclaim an awareness and a reverence for the One who dwells in the inner sanctuary of the Temple of Life itself. Let us be passionate about recovering a sense of space and stillness in our holy places, but in doing so let us know that at the heart we are pointing to the stillness within ourselves and within all life that need be cleared out, uncluttered of all that opposes or obstructs our awareness of God's presence.
Physically our churches, if they are in a state of clutter, will speak of a lack of space and stillness. The sometimes absurd hoarding of bits and pieces from the past, with sanctuaries strewn with unnecessary furnishings and a confusing assortment of papers and books, can convey an absence of inner composure. It may be that what is needed in many places is for most of our religious paraphernalia, including the great fixed pews of many sanctuaries, to be thrown out of our church doors. We need to recover simplicity and uncluttered attentiveness. Think of the way, for instance, in which a bedroom will be prepared with nesting instinct before the arrival of a newborn child. Cleaned, freshly painted, and uncluttered it is a symbol of waiting and welcome. Simplified and focused places of silence and prayer will similarly speak of yearnings in us to receive the life that is born from within.
More important than rooms and buildings are our minds and bodies, which as St. Paul said are living temples of God. What are the distractions or obsessions that need to be cleared out if we are to be more aware of the silent mystery of God within us and within the body of creation?