Where it counts…

Parenting is a challenge.  I’m sure the people who have kids that read my blog are shaking their heads right now and saying with a copious amount of snark in their voice…No Really….Having an almost teen I would say that there are times when Mark 9:29 seems more apropos than the idea that children are jewels or arrows or anything resembling such.

There have been challenges lately, nothing that can’t be worked through, nothing in the earth shattering, more small rumblings, in the middle of the rumblings I had a conversation with one of the kids… I took her to the sanctuary of the church that I pastor, mainly because doing so helped me get some perspective, kept me calm, for some reason being in the church makes my reactions more thought out, less frustrated, more calm, I don’t know pick an adjective.  I react in a nicer way in front of the church than I would, say in our living room.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that’s not the way it should be.  We shouldn’t act one way in public and another in private.  Our lives should be a constant striving to be more like Jesus, but lets face it, we are becoming more like, which is a process that, if I read it correctly, will last until we leave this earthly existence and make the transition.  So yea sometimes I don’t react the way I should and being in front of the church keeps me calm…

I realized something though when the conversation was over and the kid went down the stairs, and I sat in the church…my church…without any noise, without any music playing either loudly or softly in the background, the smells of a hundred plus year old sacred space subtly working their magic, I saw something for the first time.  Don’t get me wrong, I see this thing every week, several times a week, as I’m working around the church, getting things ready, planning, walking through the church praying.  I saw this…20141123_145227, and I realized something.  Something about myself and about the churches that I have been in and the churches that I have wanted to be in.  The ones with thousands, the ones with hundreds, or like ours the ones with a few.  We have forgotten this…in our desire to reach the world, which I have, to grab un-churched people, to appeal to a group that is increasingly finding other ways to connect with people and God.  I’ll admit that in looking at the front of our church there are times I envision an uninterrupted space, but…

That Sunday, as I sat in the front pew, alone I came to a realization, and so I stood up, and instead of doing what I normally do when I pray, instead of walking back and forth I knelt, not on the steps, not by the pew, I knelt right here.  It was exactly what I needed.  It’s what we all need, I think.  In our world full of anger, bitterness, fighting and prejudice there’s a place for this.  I have it in my head and it’s increasingly making it’s way through the rest of my being, that if we were more concerned with what we do in this spot, personally one on one with God, the other spots would take care of themselves in ways that we could not imagine.  If pastors were more concerned with their own time in this spot, the worries about who is allowed in church and who isn’t, who can be “saved” and who can’t, who deserves a seat at the table and who needs to be prayed for in love would morph into a realization that whosoever is an all inclusive word.  If church council, church board, elder boards, decon’s whatever your church calls them were more concerned with what happens in this spot on their own dealing with their own walk with God, there would be nothing a church couldn’t do in outreach and service to the community, if members and attenders could see their way to spending even a few moments at this space, I believe that the church would look different because in the time, in that sacred space, in those moments of silence, reflection and prayer, at a place designed, built for kneeling, God would give those attenders, those members a glimpse of the whosoever s in their life.

I have to admit I’ve been wrestling with this post for a while.  I took the picture that day as a reminder to myself and knew that there was a blog post in it, mainly because writing is how I make things real.

So many churches look at the picture above and see an obstacle, an old fashioned throw back to a time that was quaint, and nice, but that really doesn’t fit in with today’s world.  That Sunday something clicked for me.  That Sunday I realized that there is a better way to see this old fashioned piece of church architecture. Instead of an obstacle, a bridge, a bridge that allows us to connect in a much needed way with the God who lived, loved and died for us.  A bridge that when used on a regular basis will begin to expand our understanding of who God is, what He desires for our lives, and how we can be instrumental in showing others what it means to fully live and move and have our being in Christ.

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