Two and a half years ago I was standing on elevated television camera box operating at 30 thousand dollar state of the art Sony High Definition video camera for the opening service for the new building of my church. Along with me were Mike S. and Mike O. I was on Camera 1, Mike O. was on Camera 2 and Mike S. was on Camera 3. To us, the future of our church and our ministry had never looked brighter or more successful.
Today, Mike S. and I filmed the last service of our church in that brand new building. Something neither of us had ever expected to do. And, as I stood on Camera 2’s platform looking around our soon to be vacated sanctuary I saw some familiar faces, some not so familiar faces and some downright odd looking faces. Of course I saw Mike S. on Camera 3’s platform and I waved and smiled, then I pressed the button on my communications headset and said something snarky, he laughed and waved back. I looked up to the sound booth and scanned the faces up there, all of them were new except one man, a bearded, hard living, hard riding, bone crunching, loud visage of a man who has become near and dear to my heart. 10AC, I waved to him, he waved back with a big smile on his face and his fully tattooed arms looking like Van Gogh’s palette with his camouflage ball cap in his hand.
I then turned my attention to the multitude of people on the platform, the band members were standing around in a circle, talking quietly amongst themselves with our new worship leader. I recognized only two people up there from the old sanctuary. I “Pushed” my camera lens in close to get a look at all of their faces and did a slow pan left. They all looked happy and relaxed. I shrugged and turned my camera towards the congregation. Some folks I recognized, some I did not but everyone looked happy, comfortable, at peace. They all knew what today was, they knew that we would no long be meeting here. That this was not our home.
From what I understand the Apostles never had a physical church. As a matter of fact, I don’t think that a “Christian” church was built until somewhere around 300 AD. Interesting fact. Of course I could be wrong. The Apostles just went out and started talking to people and eventually were killed or died in their own respects.
We however are not a “Homeless” Church. We have new offices, given they are not owned by us and we have a place to worship, given we do not own that site either but rather we are renting the space, we do have a place to gather and worship.
So as I stood up there on my platform with all of the great memories I had of that building I thought of the one sermon in the Bible that has stuck with me for my lifetime since I heard it that first time so many years ago in a Lutheran Church in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
It was the “Sermon on the Mount”. We all know the story and we all know the Beatitudes that came from that sermon. But what strikes me the most is that it was on a Mount and that means a hillside in my modern way of thinking. One of the greatest Bible stories did not take place inside of a multi-million dollar building but instead outside in the heat of the day with bugs flying around and unwashed neighbors sitting next to you. I chuckle just thinking about that.
No cameras, no choir, no band, just the Word. And everyone that was there was happy to receive it. So, today as I stood there looking for a crack or fissure in the faces of the congregants I saw instead only hope for the future and faith that things will turn out alright for all of us.
Somehow through all the struggles of the past year in my church we have managed to come through it all. We have survived the lies, the rumors, the injustice and the pain of a tearing of a veil of faith and are continuing to grow.
People are funny, their faith is ridiculous and their spirit is amazing. I love it. I also know where they get it from, which makes me just like them.
It seems somewhat fitting that I came to this church as a stranger and then became one of it's recorders by filming it's history and now I filmed the final episode in it's history as well as filming the birth of a new church that has risen out of the ashes of the burnt and destroyed ruins of it's past.
Have a great week.