Church Walls

I drive the car into a parking space. I look at the building, the destination of the trip. Perhaps I will spend the day there at work. Perhaps I will make a sales call. Or try to solve an engineering problem. Or try to help someone in need.

Walls and a roof enclose the space. Outside where I am temporarily, nature and atmosphere and freedom. Moving inside everything changes. In there hierarchy, drama, politics engulf the spiritual atmosphere.

Madeleine L’Engle must have realized this. “Sometimes the very walls of our churches separate us from God and each other. In our various naves and sanctuaries we are safely separated from those outside, from other denominations, other religions, separated from the poor, the ugly, the dying.…”

I have felt that many times. When I enter one building and others from the community are entering another. And others enter buildings not churches. And others stay outside. And we are all separated by those walls. Wars have been fought with people killing neighbors because of which building they entered.

And I weep.

She writes further, “The house of God is not a safe place. It is a cross where time and eternity meet, and where we are – or should be – challenged to live more vulnerably, more interdependently.”

Some people lift a sentence from a letter of the Apostle Paul and rejoice in being separate. I’m not so sure Paul would rejoice. Reading his entire opus, the theme seems to be the desire to bring everyone together as followers of Jesus. And Jesus didn’t love the walls.

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