Daily Archives: 11:45 pm

More Than Just A Building

For those of you who don’t know or can’t tell, I am a Christian.  I will say that my many of my ideas aren’t “traditional”, but I am a Christian none-the-less.   I have been a member of my current church for most of my life, except college and med school/residency.  When we moved back to the area, one of the things I was most excited about was coming back to my “home church”.

A lot has changed in the ten years I was gone:  There’s a new sanctuary.  New people have joined.  There are a lot of people who have died or moved away.  The paint is different. The parking lot has been moved.  One of the most drastic changes is that the sanctuary that I was most familiar with is now a youth center.  There are less pews, the walls are a nice new color, the pulpit is gone, and there are a few structural changes.  It’s different, but in a good way.  I’m glad to see that it’s not just sitting vacant and unused. (Although I don’t think it’s reached its full potential.  Just sayin’.)

The other night I was cleaning up after a fantastic youth session, and I ended up being the last person in the building.  I was going around, locking up and turning off lights.  And as I walked from room to room, I became almost overwhelmed by how many memories I have wrapped up in that building.

I saw the room that was used as a nursery when I was a child, and I could almost see the petite black woman who used to keep us.  I can see her so clearly in my mind, but her name still eludes me tonight.  I saw the different offices, and I thought about my Daddy in the Sunday School office.  My Granddaddy, too.  I saw our pastor’s old office…and remembered the painting he used to have that his daughter(my friend Kimberly) made somewhere around 5th grade.  I stepped into the old choir room, and I swear to you that, with my eyes closed, I could feel my Mama Jo beside me.  I could hear her voice as clear as day, singing “Victory in Jesus”.  (I’m not generally one of those crazy, presence-feeling type of people, either…so this was a little hard for me to grasp.)

I thought about my baptism.  I thought GAs and Acteens: my teachers, my friends.  I thought about Bible Drill, and the many, many hours I spent with Ms. Hildred learning bible verses and the location of each book in the bible.  I thought about the first time I remember singing in that sanctuary.  I thought about the last time I remember singing in that sanctuary.  I thought about the weddings and funerals I attended in there.  The musicals we performed.  The games of hide-and-go-seek we played in the dark there. (Shhh…don’t tell anybody else we did that!)  There are so, so many things I remember doing, seeing and feeling in that building.

But right then, in the stillness, the quiet of that dark building, I realized something: yes, this building is important to me(there are a lot of memories of mine tied, visually, to that building), but a church is more than just a building.  It’s cliched, I know.  But it’s true.  I was not (and am not) molded by a building. I didn’t learn about God’s love from the chairs and tables in my Sunday School room.  Pews and a pulpit aren’t what make a space holy.

Church is(or should be) all about the people.  It’s nice to have a pretty new building with fancy screens and cameras.  It’s nice to have carpet that’s not older than me(yikes!), and stained glass windows.  But those things?  They aren’t what’s important.  What’s important is that I continue to learn and make wonderful memories with the real church: the people.  And that I help someone else learn and make wonderful memories, too.

End cheesiness.
Fade to black…