Almost everything is packed now, except for items absolutely essential for worship and last minute work. We've sorted, tossed, given away, cleaned out, filled boxes and bins, each room slowly emptied of its contents. On March 29th, we'll end our last service in this historic building with words of thanksgiving. We'll carry out together the items that most mark us as people of faith: those symbols that center us on Jesus. The big Bible, the altar cross and candlesticks, the cups and plates we use when we remember Jesus' last meal with his disciples in the act we call Holy Communion--these and many other items will be carried out by the people of this community at the conclusion of the 11:00 worship on that Sunday. At that point, the building itself is officially freed for other uses--and it will be put to great use as the new owner, Dr. Richard Moore, continues with his creative remodeling and turns it into a wedding chapel/conference center.
April 1 is our official moving day. We're all making light of the fact that we're moving on April Fool's Day, but it is quite appropriate--we are people of the Good News, the foolishness of God that pours out grace and reconciliation on us and invites all of us, no matter how broken, how unworthy we might feel, how tarnished or unprepared we see ourselves, into new life and new hope.
I have become exquisitely aware this week in new ways that the church itself is most definitely not the building, but the people in it. While we're certainly all looking forward to our new facility--fully accessible, lots of restrooms (if you've never been in the old facility, you cannot understand how happy we are about this!!!), gracious greeting area, fabulous spaces for our children and youth, room to grow, and so much more--the church is not that. The church really is the called-out people, the ones who've decided that we will accept the invitation from God to live as forgiven and reconciled ones, even though we know we don't deserve it. The church is all of us who fumble and fall on our way to learning about grace, who roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty as we seek to serve the world, who intentionally lose our our lives because we've learned that this is the way to really, really find life.
The church is not perfect people living perfect lives, with no room for the imperfect. The church is the place where the imperfections are celebrated as they are slowly transformed by grace into hope for ourselves and others. Real church takes place when we bring all of ourselves, our beliefs AND our doubts, our joys AND our concerns, our victories AND our defeats, our visible AND our invisible selves, our unselfishness AND our selfishness, our goodness AND our badness, our health AND our sickness. We bring it all, and learn to love God and love each other.
Yes, our bags are packed and we're ready to go. Let the new adventure begin!