Skip to main content

Life in Greencastle: Thursday, March 12, 2009

I have been trying to meet some of the other ministers in town, to find out how we might work, pray and serve this community together. So about once a week, I find myself stepping foot into another church. You learn a lot by doing that. For instance, in the sanctuary of the Nazarene church across the street there is a 't' carved out of the east-facing wall and it has been filled in again with red plastic. The effect it makes is a blood red cross which bathed the whole sanctuary space the day I visited.

When I was leaving Gobin Methodist the other day, I noticed a small plaque on the wall near the administrative offices - signifying the day The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. entered that church's pulpit and preached. That plaque is an ongoing testimony to Gobin's ongoing desire to bring social-justice.

And, back in February, I drove out to a tiny "country" church to worship and visit my brother-in-law who was playing with a worship band. On the church walls, the minister (a young man named Joel who is seeking to plant a congregation) had chosen to hang not just the American flag on the walls, but a flag from Japan and England and France and Mexico and several other nations.

Our structures and our worship spaces communicate a lot about us. True: we are a congregation of believers, not bricks. But still, our bricks do say something about us. No doubt about it. So what does our church communicate?

I asked myself that question, and the first thing that entered my mind is "our church worships." Indeed, when you drive up to our church, turning east off Round Barn Road, you start driving up an incline, and there at the top is a cross - centered and triumphant. But that is not the only clue. The first thing you encounter as you walk through our front doors: our worship space where again you are greeted with a cross.

I do not know much about who envisioned our church building. I was not present for the conversations where we - as a community - weighed whether to remain near the library or on a new site. I didn't talk with the architects. But, I gather someone was thinking this: Worship comes first. Worship is central - specifically our worship of God the Father through Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, when you arrive on Sunday, you may not consciously think the following, but someone has: our church has been structured so that we might gather as a community, enter to worship God and depart again to serve our community. Oh, and thanks be to God: we might also spend some time lingering in the wings - enjoying a meal together, learning together, serving our community in this space.

This Sunday in worship we will wrestle with the single most important building in Jesus' day and ministry: the Temple. We'll wrestle again with what that structure was communicating ... what it was supposed to communicate. Which will invite us as a community to ask again what our building says.

Interestingly, I happened to sit down with three DePauw students yesterday, and one of the first questions I was asked was, "So ... where is the Presbyterian church?"

As we prepare to gather as a community, let's thank God that we have a place to gather. And let's thank God that our "structure" communicates well. But, let us also remember this: our church cannot go out and tell people where it is. Only we can. Only we can be bearers of the gospel to this place.



Popular posts from this blog

Acts 5:1-11 - Questions for reflection & prayer

This past Sunday we looked at one of the more unsettling stories in the Book of Acts:  the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.  As shared by Luke, this couple sold a piece of land and then proceeded to bring only a portion of the profit to the apostles - laying it at their feet for the good of the community.  However, what appeared to be their grave mistake (pun intended) was their collusion in claiming to have brought all the proceeds to the apostles when - in fact - they were keeping some back for themselves.  Peter announces first to Ananias the Lord's judgment, followed by a similar verdict being handed down to Sapphira a short time later.

Seen by itself, this is a strange story, but it begins to make more sense when we see it as "part of the whole."  The story of Ananias and Sapphira comes right after we hear once again of the community's unity and generosity, including their willingness to share their own goods and resources to take care of one another (ch. 4).  Th…

Acts 6:1-6 - Questions for reflection & prayer

As the Holy Spirit empowers the Christian community, new life emerges and new members are added.  This is a beautiful thing, and it is extremely important to point out that this is God's doing.  God is initiating diversity within the Christian community.  However, this also creates new tensions and new challenges.

Acts 6:1-6 gives us our first glimpse of a tension that will extend all the way to chapter 15, until the leaders of the early Church come up with a way to address the growing differences within the Christian family.  Some feel that they are being left out and that others are getting preferential treatment.  The Hellenized Christians feel they are getting the short end of the stick.

All of this is extremely relevant to thoughts and feelings occurring in our own day and age.  Across the spectrum, a majority of Americans feel like they face some form of discrimination.  But, it also points to an ongoing challenge we all face from time to time, the challenges that arise when…

Life in Greencastle: That Greatest Architect

God's peace to all of you on this beautiful Saturday afternoon.  I hope you are enjoying the warm sunshine.  Perhaps you are even still enjoying one last sunset at the beach.
We stayed fairly close to home this Spring Break, taking two short trips, including one to Turkey Run State Park and the other to Columbus, Indiana.  Anna and I had been longing to go to Columbus for quite some time.  Back in the day, we became friends with Emily and Manish Desai in our small apartment complex in Pasadena, both of whom had recently graduated with degrees in architecture from Cal Poly.  Manish would go on to earn his license in architecture and has designed a number of really beautiful spaces, including private residences but also a church out in the desert for a Native American tribe.  Anna and I have always appreciated Manish and Emily's aesthetic, which is why we knew to take note when they started telling us about Columbus, Indaina a number of years ago.  They didn't know much abo…