Yesterday we went for lunch at a place that sells gourmet hot dogs. The food is very good and reasonably priced. That means the restaurant was crowded and we ended up at an outdoor table next to a nice family of two parents and three kids who were in their late teens and early 20s.
Now, I want to stay married more than just about anything else. So I kept my mouth shut while we caught snatches of Nice Family’s conversation. Some of it was about how they liked the grilled bread the restaurant used in place of buns–on that we could agree. But then talk turned to the latest controversy and these Tennesseans began to opine about our current War and The Mosque At Ground Zero. That was when the youngest of them–a wispy blonde girl in a sundress and high heels, sweater in her lap and cheese fry held daintily between thumb and middle finger said
They should be ashamed. I’d be embarrassed. I mean, if Christians went someplace and killed a bunch of Muslims I wouldn’t put a church there.
The part of me that is staying married shoved a bite of Sauerkraut in my mouth. The part of me that is me regardless of connubial bliss has a blog. And that blog is where I’m saying the things that swirled around in my head.
The first of them is that Miss Embarrassed should be embarrassed about her lack of knowledge when it comes to World History. Because then she might be aware of just exactly how many Christian churches have been erected in the places where our Crusaders triumphed over those we called Infidels. One of those churches can be found in a little desert city called Jerusalem.
But the second thing that I so badly wanted not only Miss Embarrassed but her entire family to hear was the burning question that grows hotter in my mind the longer I live in Nashville.
What, exactly, do you think a church is?
The entire family was dressed in the way that families dress for church. They had most likely just come from one of the hundreds we’ve got around here. But if they think that a church building is a social statement or a sort of land-claim marker (as so many people seem to) then I am sorry for the Bridegroom.
Churches are places to worship. They are a place where those who believe can gather to share in our relationship, to have a family reunion of sorts.
Churches are the places where we are supposed to be fed.
When Jesus fed the 5000, he took the Loaves and Fishes and prayed over them. He then divided them between his disciples. The disciples took that blessed food out into the masses where they saw it magically, miraculously become enough to feed everyone there–with enough left over to feed more. That is God’s picture to us of what church should be. We, the disciples, receive the blessed food from The Master when we pray at God’s feet. We are then to go out among the hungry and deliver to them the feast we’ve been given.
All Churches Commemorate A War
It doesn’t matter if you are Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Anabaptist or Church of Christ. Your church commemorates the war between God’s Love for God’s Creation and the forces of death and darkness that strive to separate the two. It is the bloodiest and most vile war ever to exist, and the only war with a certain victor.
Churches are Sanctuaries
The Christian Church has a long history of being the place in time of war where those in fear for their life could come for safety and rest.
Many of us would like our church to be nothing more than Sunday Morning Club. If it’s a bit nicer and has more money we wouldn’t mind if there were a gym for our kids to hang out on other nights. But these are merely cultural affectations of the American Church of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. They are not the Biblical church. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this additional benefit a person receives it’s not what the church is for.
There’s no reason to be embarrassed of where you build your church. There’s only cause to be embarrassed about what you do with it once it’s built.