What’s in a Building?

Posted: January 23, 2021 by Ty in Spirituality
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Ah, it is astounding how many will flock to a political party or ideology because they state it supports their religious beliefs and freedoms. Regardless of the morals or ethical character demonstrated by the leaders or elected representatives when it comes to behaviours, abuses, bullying, frauds, etc. It does give clear case study examples of the last gasps of Christendom with the ventilator removed in the Christianities if you want a visual. Truly the Quiet Revolution of ending Empire Christianities is rolling nicely, and for those who are not driven by power but the Holy Call to love, it is renewing communities on what is important.

These last gasps are becoming evident and clearly on display as Covid restrictions to lockdowns are levied across the world, and what effect it has on worship gatherings. We are living in a time of real-time scientific learning and discovery, with a virus (and its mutations) that is doing what virus’ do, thrive for survival. This is why we are seeing push back. Too many have bought into the fact the church should have and/or still has power, is not bound by worldly laws, or that freedom of religion and gathering are no couched in corporate/communal responsibilities. This is also tied in with a rampant selfish individualism, and sadly, a perpetuated idea that the church building is God’s House. That is one point and place in time to connect with the Holy.

Now, pause. For, as everything else has to close, and churches (religious centres) were allowed to remain open (though with a less than 15% occupancy), is a political move from our government to set them up as a scape goat, and in some instances it is working. Sadly, the Shepherds and Sheep within the congregations living into this are not seeing it. Across Canada we have seen certain church’s flout the laws (and yes Health Orders are laws, and the way our system functions they supersede every other law). We have seen in Manitoba churches break gathering restrictions, here in Alberta two have joined a lawsuit, and one, Fairview Baptist, is just not getting it (and the local community schools are now having battles with the virus…) note how we do not exist in isolation. Decisions and choices matter. Though the attitude within some does not shock me, there is sociological, social psychology and theological reasons as to why. We have churches that exist on a spectrum that fall into 3 large categories: 1) completely online, 2) hybrid (online, with booked in person attendance in line with protocols) and 3) the law breakers. Sadly, the third category so far appear to not being held to full account within our province.

There is a key thing at play though that needs to be addressed for these communities, and one that is difficult. See it is not about the things alluded too around freedoms, or conscience, or individualism…the key cornerstone issue that needs to be addressed in our transfiguring Christianities as Christendom is finally placed in the grave, is the building.

Which is why I love the song shared earlier, some may say it is a song about rampant individualism and not getting the Gospel. Whereas I look at it as the circle being drawn wide, for the show, theatrics, false prophets are thrown aside, our numbers may be small, but it is authentic in US LIVING HOLY LOVE in our world and community, gathering in places and embracing them Holy. Not simply because it was purposed as a church. Now I am not against buildings, they are wonderful tools (same as money, same as our vote) to create a better world. To allow Courageous Safe Spaces for people to grow, serve, learn and discover.

BUT it can’t all be about the building. Too many wonderful faith family’s are on life support because the albatross of the building. Whether it has been deemed a historic site, and now they cannot pivot with it for needed modernization or simply the socio-economics of members have shifted and the ability to keep up with preventative maintenance has lagged. Yet it is amazing when you connect to discuss options, a congregation would rather disperse than lose their building and continue in a different way in community.

Let that settle in when we cannot understand why some cannot understand worshipping online or in other ways. It is that change is hard, change brings grieving, and hard conversations and discovery. It is easier to push back on the shift, than live into the shift. It is about discovering what each congregation is called to be, and it is not about the sin checklist, or about the smoke and mirror issues that politics uses to create block voting. It is simply about the Great Commandments- Love God, Love Neighbour, Love Self. True holy interdependence. One cannot exist in a healthy way, without the others. When understood a religious community’s response to their C-tine life shifts as well.

Now, with this understanding, that it is about people not buildings (or power or money, all useful tools but the love of each of these three corrupt and lead to evil) how does one’s heart shift on mission and life in c-tine?

As you hear the words of a new version of Tom T. Hall’s Me and Jesus is there something in there for your faith family wherever you are, however you gather, and live out your faith?

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