Saturday, May 05, 2012
Body or Bricks of Christ?
A couple of weeks ago Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team celebrated its one hundredth anniversary. There was lots of pomp and circumstance befitting this venerable institution. One writer described it as the Holy of Holies of baseball parks. How is that for a religous metaphor? Another pointed out that it was the only sports venue for a major league team in any sport to make it to the century mark. Now there is pause for thought.
But of course Maple Leaf Gardens and the Montreal Forum, true shrines of hockey, have been supplanted by the Air Canada and Bell centres. Lots of people look upon their sports teams as a form of worship -- they aren't called fans, an abbreviation of fanatics, for nothing.
Bricks and mortar institutions come and go in just about every sphere of life. Why then are we so unwilling to let our structures go when we claim that church is the people, not the buildings? I served a congregation which had to pull down its impressive city core building and start again. I would meet people who practically bragged that they hadn't been to church since the demolition. The last church I served in Halifax had spent a million dollars on the building just before I arrived and have spent a bundle since I left. Meanwhile there are a bunch of other United Churches within a couple of kilometres.
Here in Bowmanville we have two United Churches within spitting distance, although I point out that we refrain from actually doing so. Many of our rural pastoral charges are one major structural problem away from insolvency. What is the matter with us? Can't we do better than this? Is this a form of idolatry?
But maybe its just me that is puzzled by this. Ministers don't stay with one congregation forever, so we don't get as attached to the buildings, even the best of them. I realize I have written about this before, but how about you? Would you be willing to shift your place of worship a block or two if it meant stronger ministry?