By Steve Bishop
Board of Facilities
Over and over again, in every city I visit, I find myself looking at churches; all prove to be as unique and as individual as the people who congregate inside. I will admire the tall ceilings, stained glass windows and architectural features that seem like they have been formed by Christ him/her self. Recently I realized I’ve been looking at them all wrong. It has taken time away from our church building that has made me adjust my sights to look for the real church, the one within, behind the glass, rock and wood, the Church that exists whether or not a building is there to shelter it.
Our building is great, but it’s just rock and wood. I think Rev. Blood knew that when he started out in 1855 with only a tent, a trunk and some kegs to sit on. He wasn’t much concerned with a building yet as he knew to have a church he also had to have nails to hold it together. Those nails, he found, were in the love and spirit of the people who graced it with their presence. Without them he would have only had rock and wood. As the love grew and that spirit persisted, the evolution of our church began. Only then did he have the makings of a solid structure: the rock and the wood along with the “nails” held it together.
I say this now because it seems God has laid our congregation bare, stripping away that rock and wood exposing us and testing our strength. We have been forced away from our church, away from the safety and sanctity of our rock and wood, and yet the love (we “nails”) remain. This love is evident in our church leadership who scrambled to put together worship alternatives, their personal fears running simultaneous with the worry for their church family. They went to work immediately, made plans to shelter in place, to meet online, to regroup and take a head count and reassure us that we are all still here, safe. The nails, independent of the rock and wood remain, maybe a bit scattered for the time being but we remain, strong and steadfast with our love for one another.
The pews may very well be our couches now, and our computers stand in lieu of a pulpit. It would be easy to feel disconnected from one another but take a look outside – the sun that shines down and warms my soul is the same sun that is shining down warming yours, warming us all. The spring breeze I feel on my face is the same breeze you will feel. All of our grass is greening, our trees beginning to bud, and our early spring flowers have begun making their escape from winters grasp, all under that same sun. Nature is moving forward regardless of whether it's in my yard or yours and our church is doing the same. We all ache with uncertainty right now, perhaps just as the congregation did in our church’s beginning. Rev. Blood knew that even though a tornado tore the roof of the building off in 1859, it would not spoil the spirit of the people, they would hold together to weather many, many storms. Pastor Caela knows this too, her nails are strewn, but remain. We find us weathering this new storm, but we will do it together; through the good, the bad, the happy, and the sad, we are the nails that connect us to one another and to the Church.
We will reunite with each other soon, once again at work holding together our rock and wood. Perhaps we will sing just a bit louder and spend a bit longer passing the peace and just maybe our conversations will outlast the cookies and coffee at fellowship hour, doing what we do best: holding each other together, inside our rock and wood.