Last week Paul told his church in Corinth to give up the wisdom of the world and rely on the foolishness of God. Some people may think labyrinths belong on the foolish list. Why take a walk that goes in a circle to nowhere and back again? What good can it possibly do? Yet labyrinths have been used by many cultures for decoration and meditation for centuries and have a renewed place in Christian worship and prayer.
For the unfamiliar, a labyrinth is a maze pattern that can decorate objects or a wall, be traced with your finger or be large enough to be walked on a floor. Some cultures used labyrinths to confuse “evil” spirits and thus keep them from entering sacred places. For Christians labyrinths are prayer paths that clarify rather than confuse. You can take an issue to God in prayer on such a walk and listen for guidance, or simply feel God’s comforting presence.
The earliest known Christian Labyrinth is in a fourth century church in Algeria. Around the year 1000 CE they began to be built into church walls and floors, the most famous being that labyrinth on the floor of Chartres Cathedral. They may have come into use as alternatives to making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, something not many had the means to do. Pilgrims could “walk” the labyrinth on their knees while praying.
Our canvas labyrinth is designed for walking and will be set up in the back end of Fellowship Hall for two weeks this year, from the fifth Sunday of Lent until Easter. We are adding some elements to help enrich the experience. Why take a walk to “nowhere” and back? Because God in God’s foolishness thinks “nowhere” is a fine place to meet.
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22