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I may be biased, so for me the football stadium with the best atmosphere in Scotland is Tynecastle Park, home of my beloved Hearts.
Regularly on Facebook I am sent video clips of Hearts’ victories ‘On This Day’ in 1990 or 2010 or whenever.
The older clips show a stadium from another world. For, over the years, the ground has developed to meet the requirements of a 21st century stadium.
In the 1950s, 35,000 people would stand in teeming rain trying to glimpse the action. By the 1970s, the gates had reduced to below 8,000 and the place looked tired and empty. Now, steeply-tiered seated stands bring the crowd close to the action and generate a cracking, noisy atmosphere.
The capacity of 20,000 fits so well with the average 17,000 crowds, with a wee bit spare for really big games. No one would go back to what had been before.
In a many ways what has just been written about a football stadium holds true for churches. The requirements of a 21st century congregation are quite different from a 19th century one.
We have upgraded our own homes since those days, so why not the house of God? Let’s go deeper, though, and ask about the purpose of a place of worship.
In our Reformed tradition, it is said we are people of the Word. So we need to gather to hear, somewhere. Luther, wrote the preaching of the Gospel is nothing else than Christ coming to us, or we being brought to him.
Well, we know we cannot summon up Jesus through a beautiful building, but we can lower the barriers to people coming to hear the Word by making our gathering place conducive to listening – body, mind and soul.
Rev Dugald Cameron, Kilmore and Oban.