I love this layout. The quote came from a car conversation Sophie and Steffi had while we were on the way to a wedding. Sophie and Mollie had both been flower girls at another wedding when Steffi was a baby, so Steffi regarded them as the experts. “What is a Wedding?” asked Steffi. Sophie’s answer: “First you sit quiet. Then they kiss ’cause they’re married. Then at the VERRRY end, there’s snacks!” Actually, I was thinking that Sophie’s definition was probably not that far from the true feelings of most adults present.
Sitting in church today, I noticed a nice floral arrangement on the table in front of the pulpit. A wedding? Then I remembered signs that had been posted at Mother’s Day Out about a funeral on Thursday. That would mean the flowers would be fresh for Sunday and then still fresh enough to be brought to a nursing home on Monday. Passing on the blessing of such beauty.
Looking at the church platform, I had a strange thought. Some day, I will be sitting here watching my kids get married. Maybe I will sit here for all five marriages. Then I had another thought. Some day, my own funeral service will be conducted here, perhaps right here on this platform. There will be flowers, and those will stay for church, and then be sent on to the nursing home too.
Weddings, church services, funerals. We also had a baby dedication this morning on that same platform. Moreover, I’ve been in this same church room (or parts of the room) for MOPS meetings, Global Missions celebrations, Harvest Fests (complete with 20 foot high bouncies and popcorn), Fund-raising dinners for Christian Women’s Job Core, and a church potluck for Thanksgiving. There is a holiness in knowing that the cycle of life will be celebrated all in the small space of a single building.
I’ve been a member of several different denominations of Baptist churches, three different non-denominational churches, a Vineyard church, a Calvary church, and a Hispanic church. In each of them I’ve known flawed people but a living faith which ministered to the needs of many people. I know many people become fed up with churches or the people inside of them. I’ve known moments of being hurt by someone in my church or of losing faith in leaders. Yet, I fully believe with Paul that it is through the church God works his plan in the world.
My kids and I have been reading through the story of Israel’s Kings. This week, we’ve been reading about Solomon building and dedicating the Temple, the first Temple, to the Lord. In his dedication, he prays a long prayer to the Lord, reminding the people of all God has done for them in the history of their nation. Then he pleads for God to remember his promises and be merciful when they repent of their sins. Finally he tells the people, “But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time” (I Kings 8:61 NIV)
The temple and our churches are sacred places, dedicated to God. Yet, they are only sacred as long as we are committed to be sacred people, living lives of self-sacrifice before God. Solomon’s dedication was filled with awesome prayers and sacrifices, but his life degenerated into selfishness and self gratification. Sometimes our holy spaces in the church seem too ordinary, yet holiness is real not because of ritual, but because of the intent of the heart. Dear Lord, let me be a person whose heart sears with a fire for you in the ordinary moments of the day.