Sunday, April 22, 2012

All the pretty Churches

I went through some of my pictures that I have taken in my time here in Cambridge. It is hard to believe that in a little while I will know for sure where my placement for internship will be (pray for me!) and my year of study here will be over. It has been quite an adventure. I have learned so much! As I looked over my pictures I noticed that most of my pictures were of one thing, that being churches. I have taken to capturing pictures of the grand churches here in Europe. In fact I have found that when I visit places the first thing I want to do is to see the churches. It makes me think of several things. First, where I have come from (referencing my baptism) second, where I am going (that being heaven) third, who I am presently connected to, (that being you, and the whole body of believers connected in Christ). So the common thread that I find in all that is; (drum roll please!......the good old Sunday school answer....) JESUS! I think it is interesting that I have gone looking for Jesus in Europe, and in big gaudy churches in Europe. Granted Jesus doesn't dwell in brick and mortar, my search for Jesus in these churches has only solidified for me where he really is; with you! Sure, Jesus can be seen in the grand windows, and beautiful mosaics and all that communicates Him and His work at the cross but more importantly, He does not reside there. He takes dwelling with all of us, even past the church. We are the church!

There is a certain sense of amusement when I pay a small contribution in order to pass the gift shop of an old church and enter into the place where God offers his richest gifts of forgiveness of sins, and new life. The irony! This beautiful place that once was a beloved home to pious people of the faith has now turned into a money chamber, or museum of what once was important. It has become a place where people come and gawk at a bit of history, and which history do they gawk at? Is it the history from the point of the ground breaking for the church that they paid 10 euros to look at? Perhaps it is the history of the book that is upon the altar that the building was first erected for? To me it is amazing that no matter where the tourists stand with God, their very presence in that moment is an act of worship. People have come to explore a bit of history that is connected not only to the history of the past, but is a history offered to each individual to own as their own history of salvation. In addition (as was the case with Westminster Abby) so many people are willing to go through the motions of a worship service in order that they may enter into the church for free and see the place where His glory dwells. This experience brought to light the whole reality for me that is found in the verse:

Philippians 2:10-11

New King James Version (NKJV)
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christis Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God is so amazing that he would not make himself known through the stone walls of churches and the glass windows of ancient historical churches, but through his son. The very light of the world, Who one day will be confessed all over the world by believers and unbelievers alike and not for selfish gain and pictures but because everyone will be made acutely aware of where they came from, where they are going, and who held them in every moment of their life even when they did not want to be held. It is a powerful and intimidating thought to think of that last hour when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, because it is in that hour that we will realize the foolishness of our buildings used to contain God and our wanderings to find Him. God cannot be contained, His story, His Son, His grace mercy and peace has been bestowed upon us and not the works of our hands, but the work of his son. He makes us His dwelling place and we wait for that day that is arriving when God shall walk with us as a man walks with his friend.