I realize that a building is just a building. “The Church” is the people – the life coursing through a living room, the streets, the world; but whenever I enter a place of worship, I love to pause for a moment and imagine all of the things it has witnessed. How many prayers of confession, baptisms, and choruses of How Great is Our God
have these walls absorbed? How saturated must these cross beams be – radiating holiness and liturgy, hopes and fears, sin and grace, laughter and tears. While a building is just a building, there can be no denying the weight of tradition and the power of sharing space and humanity.
That is what I love about church. No matter if you have been a member of a congregation since before its first days or whether today is the first time you have been within 2000 miles of this place there is something shared, and safe, and stable about being here. Being in a “church” is a way to physically step into historical prayers. To walk around and feel the unique but communal experiences of joy, heartbreak, peace, doubt, faith, and community that so many before me have encountered, here.
I am so grateful we worship a God that can be accessed everywhere from a wifi-filled coffee shop bustling with YPs to the corner of a forgotten street in a desolate ghost town. I am bursting with excitement for progress being made toward equality and love and for communities learning the unforced rhythms of grace that have long been hidden under tradition and ritual.
But I am also not willing to let all of that tradition go. Like a beautiful old sanctuary – dark cedar beams, rich red carpeting, and warm glass windows – I cannot ignore the mysterious way a place like this makes a deep place in my soul come to life. So let’s not do away with these shared words, prayers, and hymns. Instead let’s dust them off, hang a few new banners in the rafters, and learn to see them in a new light.
The Church still has so much work to do in order to reconcile its past sins, and it can often be disheartening to see the ways in which a place that brings me so much joy, and comfort, and peace can be so hurtful to the people I love and care about – the very people Jesus intended the Church to be for. But having the opportunity to hang those banners and listen to the beautiful outpouring of love and trust during worship on my first Sunday at MBCC was so encouraging. No community is perfect. We have all fallen short. However, I am so excited for the opportunity to spend my summer with this group of people, in this city, doing this work.
-Hannah Sikes, summer intern