Wednesday, September 16, 2009
saturday was a bit rainy around here. and shannon had meetings at church in the morning, so it was just me and the boys and my inner bum reared his lazy head and i decided that we'd just stay in, stay in our pajamas, and play with legos. at least until the college football games started. we recently purchased an enormous bin of legos for $15, and so we've got an ample supply of little plastic blocks, enough that i can spend the day singing, "jack, jack, he's a lego maniac." anyway, we had already started building a church, so saturday seemed like the perfect day for finishing the project. so, equipped with pjs and coffee, i headed to the playroom with two short little guys with even shorter attention spans in tow, and started work on this puppy. when shannon got home from her meeting she joined us. the next thing we knew, jack was complaining he was hungry. looking at the time for the first time all morning, we realized that it was now 1:15. oops. guess time flies when you're having fun! we took a quick lunch break then returned to the construction zone. i never even watched the college football. we just built and built and built. we had to laugh at ourselves along the way as we carefully designed the chancel and the communion rail, placing altar flowers and a bible on the altar, even taking care to add a little lego flame to the cross to deem it an official united methodist logo. "church nerds," we called ourselves, snickering. most people build spaceships or houses. not us. we build churches.
and as i helped build a little miniature church brick by brick, i couldn't help but be struck by the obvious metaphor in my hands. the song i remember from my childhood (its still in the umc hymnal!) kept going through my head: the church is not a building; the church is not a steeple; the church is not a resting place; the church is a people//i am the church. you are the church. we are the church together. all who follow Jesus all around the world, yes, we're the church together. (click here for the rest of the lyrics). it couldn't have been more clear, what with me in my pajamas sitting in a sea of legos: the church is so much more than bricks. its not the building that makes or defines or confines a church; it's the people. its you and me. we are, ultimately, the bricks that make up the church. we are the real structure, the real mortar, the real "stuff" that the church is made of. and if some are missing, then we are not complete. there are holes in our wall, soft spots in our structure. we need each member, each person in our community to be a present part of the church if we are to succeed in being a sturdy lover of our community, a church who is steady in goodness. we need each person. a church that is missing someone is like our lego church with a brick missing. incomplete. and a church that is more focused on its building than on its people, well, it's much like a plastic lego church: just a shell.
my heart breaks for churches with an edifice complex, whose buildings define them. buildings, in the end, will come and go, much like our lego church will soon fall prey to two small boys who can't wait to unleash their inner demolitionists. buildings will break and crumble. but the church? well, the church is something different. Jesus said that even the gates of hades could not prevail against it.