Not Just a Building

Good morning

For the past week or so I have been in the home of my heart. The place where I was born and nurtured to become the person I am. Returning to this place has always provided re-energizing for the soul. As I always do when I am here, I attended worship on Sunday in my home congregation. There are still many familiar faces and a deep embrace of love waiting for me as I walk through those doors. This year I became aware of the fact that this congregation is in Palliative Care and this Fall will need to make some decisions about its future. As part of the institutional church I have walked with congregations to the end of their life. I have participated in conversations with committees and individuals as they proclaim that the building is just that – a building. More times than I can count, I have heard the words – “ the building is not important” “ We should not be spending our resources on keeping old buildings open” “ the building is not ministry”. They are phrases that I myself have uttered and on one level I believe them and know them to be true.

While this may be true there is also another truth that is often forgotten. This building is a home where people have gathered for generations. Baptisms, marriages and funerals have taken place within these walls. Faith has been nurtured; stories told; wisdom shared; relationships forged; covenants made; misunderstandings have caused dissention and reconciliation has torn down walls. In words and actions hope, joy and challenge have all been communicated. Wrapped in loves embrace countless people have discovered their calling and experienced the divine in unimaginable ways. These stories linger in the air of such a sacred place. To a stranger it may be “just a building” but to one whose story is intricately woven into its fabric, this building is a thin place where the ancestors sing and the soul can know peace.

Our sacred story reminds us that “for everything there is a season”. Life, death and new life are all part of the cycle. We know that nothing lasts, in its present form, forever. However with every death there comes a sense of loss and grief. This is also true of the buildings that have been our Holy places. They are not “just buildings”. They are part of our being and the tapestry of our life.

My Church

A Roof, four walls, windows and a door.
It’s just a building people say.
Come inside,
Sit beside
And listen a while with me.

This place, now almost empty
Was filled with song and joy.
Stories shared
People cared
And helped me come to be.

Surrounded by the young and old
The foundation, strong and sure
The bell rang
Spirit sang
And here I learned to see.

The seeds of justice, love and peace
Were planted in this place
Many voices,
Many choices
I found grace that set me free.

It is more than just a building
Inside is Holy ground
When it leaves
Remember please
Its sacredness for me.

© 2015 Valerie Peyton Kingsbury


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