Dearest Members of Bethlehem,
“Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he [Zechariah] was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense.” -Luke 1:8-9
“And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.” -Luke 24:53
If you were to ask someone what their favorite Gospel was, there’s a good chance they might answer, “the Gospel of Luke!” It is a beauty, there’s the birth narrative, the sermon on the plain, and the good Samaritan, too.
But there’s another little detail about the Gospel of Luke that might intrigue you. The Gospel begins in the temple with Zechariah, husband to Elizabeth and father of John the Baptist, fulfilling his priestly duties. And, interestingly enough, the conclusion of Luke also takes place in the temple. After all of Jesus’ teaching, following the death and resurrection of their Lord, the disciples end up back in that sacred space, “blessing God.”
These little vignettes, these book ends, give us an idea of how important it is to have a “place” to go. For many of us, our church building remains a hub of worship, spiritual/intellectual development, and social activity. It is the place we go to bless God, to learn of God’s wisdom, to facilitate service to our neighbor, and deepen our connection with Christ.
Each of us spends varying amounts of time at church. I am occasionally teased about having a cot in my office. Others will spend hours here each week, and still others will stop by a couple of times a year. There’s no judgment here, and I am serious about that because even if you haven’t been around in a decade, the church is still that “place.” It is a holy place, that has been set aside for a holy purpose, to be the center of our lives of faith.
And yet, sometimes I think about how easy it is to take this place, our church building, or any church building that is important to you, for granted.
Well, not today, now that we are making our way through a robust programmatic year, I want to take this opportunity to formally thank all the kind people who make our life together possible, more specifically I want to formally thank all those faithful folks who maintain this physical structure that we utilize day in and day out. From the members of the altar guild to our Tuesday work crew; from our custodial staff to the Altar Guild; and every person in between who contributes so generously to maintaining our “place,” from the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Question for reflection: What parts of our church building hold the best memories for you?
Yours in Christ,
Gracious Lord, when the feverish pace slows and quiet moments finally open before us, grant us some time to know the holy comfort and contentment that can only come through your Spirit. We pray this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.