“Remodeling is a metaphor for rebuilding a ministry.” It was my colleague David Nagler, the pastor at Nativity Lutheran Church in Bend, as he agreed to show me around the remodel which had happened in his church in the last several years. I showed up on his doorstep on a Friday afternoon after our architect had suggested that we might consider reconfiguring our chancel and a few other changes as part of the process of sprucing up our sanctuary with paint and new carpet. Dave smiled as he showed me around their beautiful space and showed me how the movable parts of the chancel had been so beneficial to configuring worship.
It seems so long ago. But his words have remained with me through all of the praying and planning and dialogue which have lead us to the building permit at our back door today. I prayed that our conversations over the possibilities would be healing for a congregation which had been painfully polarized in the past. Was it really possible to invite deeply held convictions to be aired and respected by people who might not agree with you? Was it really possible for everyone to feel as if their views and concerns were heard and considered as decisions were being made? Can we possibly afford to make all the changes which will renew our worship space for ministry for years to come in a time of limited incomes and financial distress? The answers to all of our questions seem to be yes.
When we were on our recent trip in Greece and Turkey we saw so many beautiful worship spaces. Many of them date from the last two millenia, but many of them were recreated from thousands of years before that. The urge to worship God in beauty seems to be a human response to of a God of majesty and power. We want to offer our best to the Creator of the beauty we see around us. And so we have begun. It will be a journey of chaos I am sure. And it will be an adventure as we figure out how to manage all the bits and pieces of a process of hymnals and communion cards and altar rails and hymn boards before we are able to worship in our renovated space. We will all have to be patient with the process and with each other as we bump into ourselves and our plans in the days and months to come.
Keep our rebuilding in your prayers as you have kept it in your hearts all these years. Please join me in praying that God’s Holy Spirit will continue to lead us in the gritty every-day-ness of this process as well as along the path to which we are committed for the ministry of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. May it be so. Amen.