by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The reading for Sunday, October 21, 2012
2 Samuel 7:1-17
optional additional reading: Luke 1:30-33
In the reading for today, we see some echoes of modern arguments. Is it better to have a church building or is it better to be out in the world, a mobile temple? Are we more likely to meet those who need the Good News in our churches or in our coffee shops?
Those of us who have served on church councils can attest to the trouble of having a church building. Buildings require so much money and care. It's easy spend more time talking about what to do about the issues that the building presents than we do about the issues that affect parishioners.
And more than the issue of time is the issue of money. For every dollar that we spend on insurance and the roof and the multiple HVAC units, that's less money that we have to spend on resources like curriculum for Bible study, on musical instruments, on leaders and staff. For every dollar that we spend on the building, that's less money that we have to donate to the poor of our communities.
So, what do we do? Sell the building? That decision would bring more complications.
For many local churches, the building is a resource handed down to us. We may not have chosen it, but it is a resource for us to manage. Maybe we manage it by sharing it with communities that don't have a similar gift but need space. Maybe we manage it by using it to store food, clothes, and other resources for the needy. There are any number of ways to deal with a building.
But the heart of today's reading goes far beyond a worship space.
In today's reading, we also see how old is the issue of the best way to honor God. Do we honor God by having a sumptuous structure? Or do we honor God by the activities that we host in the structure?
Or are there better ways to honor God, ways that exist outside of the structure altogether?
Today's reading gives us a hint of what God might value, and it's not the building. We see that God has been present no matter how transient the population has been. God will join us where we are.
We see a God who's thinking generations ahead. We see a promise of a kingdom of a different sort.
So, perhaps instead of thinking about the building, we should be about building for future generations. What kind of faith formation can we do as a church that will equip future generations for what they will face?
What kind of dynasty are we building in our churches?