This evening finds me standing in a 97-year-old sanctuary that is being restored, surrounded by the mess, the clutter, the scattering of building materials, the well-worn tools and the oddly earthy smell of an old building being resurrected.
It is not lost on my heart how much this place parallels our own lives, in how we’re all needing to be restored and resurrected.
Just as each person comes into the church through the entry door, they also bring with them who they are. The personal mess of troubles, lingering doubts, hidden secrets, worries, habits and suspicions are all brought right on into the church; the sanctuary ~ a building on a plot of land where people gather.
The backpack of our lives goes with us everywhere. And in a house of worship we will stand, mingle and sit with others who have a backpack of their own. All of this, together in one place; so much humanity and what is it for?
Along with singing and listening to a calendar of events then maybe shaking hands and learning a name or two, what’s it for, what’s it all about?
What does it BRING to each person who enters through the door?
We come because there is healing here.
Our spirit wants to connect with others who seek the same healing.
Just being in the same place, joined together in song assures us ~ to know that we are not alone in needing the same healing.
The church is our Hospital. The sanctuary is our Rehabilitation Center. We have infirmities and diseases that are not just physical but etched deep into our psychological core. All different ages, so many unique background stories, gathered shoulder to shoulder in song.
Come to the altar. Come for healing. Not by a prescription nor by a routine; come and be filled by something you can’t get on television.
Bring your heavy load; everything that you hate and set it down at the feet of Jesus.
In the sanctuary there is so much carry-on luggage it is like a metropolitan airport baggage claim. Except that no one wants to pick it up and take it back home.
We come in through the door to set it down. Or at least one would hope.
We tend to wrestle with letting go of these things. This personal brokenness drags us down, threatens to pull us underwater and to extinguish our very breath – along with the hope that goes with it. All the better to continually meet, knowing that everyone has a backpack filled with nothing they need and everything they should give to God at the altar.
I reflect on this in a church under reconstruction.
As with the church body world-wide, the people who worship here can’t gather because of stay-at-home orders. And even if they could, their building is not yet ready for habitable use. However, the yearning to join and sing and let go everything that wants to pull them down is worth striving for. Every local church body should desire to be lifted, to be touched under the chin and to have its face brought into the light of God’s perfect Grace.
I love the brokenness of the church. It tells me that Christ still repairs and restores, bringing dead people to life. And I am so thankful that each person can bring their ragged, heavy to bear baggage and give it to God.
I hope they leave it at the altar.