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Archive for August 19th, 2013

Main-Street-Baptist-Church-image-1-129656914499250000This year, the church my hubby grew up attending celebrates it’s 250th anniversary. The building, itself is well over one hundred years (and hubby says there may still be a few original members 😉 ). It was a place of great learning, of inspiration and of feeling loved and accepted by hubby from birth to adulthood.

This anniversary makes me think of other ‘old’ churches.

I am not sure of the age of my grandmother’s little county church, but there are tombstones in the cemetery behind which date back to the late 1800’s. I remember, as a little girl, staring at the beautiful stained glass window image of Jesus cradling a lamb in His arms (while the pastor preached of the need of salvation, living ‘rightly’, and loving your neighbor … and probably a bit of fire and brimstone). . The window stories solidified my flannel-graph Sunday School lessons.161

I remember visiting the beautiful St. Dunstan’s Basilica in Charlottetown, PEI, a number of years ago with our young children. It was build in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s (a fire of the original structure delayed it’s completed construction). There is something about a place so old, so ornate in it’s use of dark wood, and colorful window story-telling that ‘oos and awes’ emanated from even the youngest among us.

114982872_e311f849e7One of my favorite churches, because of it’s setting, is the Saint Thomas de Memramcook Church (in New Brunswick). With it’s tall center spire, and perfectly balanced stained windows below. It sits atop a hill, overlooking flat lands that the Bay of Fundy flow into. It always takes my breath away when I look at where it sits … like a beacon, a lighthouse, for weary travelers.

When I was younger I scoffed at the wasted money that went into the maintaining of these aging structures. That money could be used to meet the needs of people today, rather than to do upkeep on history.

I am starting to see, now, the benefits of these still-standing, brick and mortar, structures.

You see, these physical structures are evidence of God’s faithfulness, evidence of hundreds and thousands of people who put their trust in God to see them through to the completion. Not just of a church building, but of living a very real, skin on, life. Life with illness, and death, and abandonment, and struggle, and heartache … and joy, and celebration, and redemption, and saving, and love.

These buildings are memorials to faith.

After the Israelites followed the art of the covenant through to the center of the Jordan River, Joshua was told told (by God) to have one man of each of the twelve tribes, to pick up a rock from the middle of the Jordan and bring it to the other side. Later on God explained the significance of these rocks:

“He (God) said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” (Joshua 4:21-24)

When I look at, and think of, old churches (and there are certainly more in the world that are much older) now, I find myself paraphrasing the words from the book of Joshua:

In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stone and wood buildings mean?’ tell them, 

“People …

simple, hard-working, fallible, messed up, people …

they lived, they loved, they gave, they ached, they got sick, they suffered …

they didn’t have all the answers, couldn’t see the big picture …

they didn’t have the strength to go on, didn’t have the funds to go on, didn’t have the support to go on …

but, they had God.

The one, true, living God …

and they trusted Him …

with EVERYTHING!

And, He carried them through to dry land (carried means that He never left them … ever).

He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.

And another stone of faith that was written in 1837 …

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