The first ‘home’ mentioned in the Bible was, of course, the perfect garden where Adam and Eve lived. We don’t know how long they were there, but we know that it was perfect because they walked and talked with God. They were able to do this because they were sinless and were able to communicate with their Holy God. What a place this must be. I’m sure there is beauty beyond what we can imagine. Consider flowers that radiate such beautiful color, trees that provide lovely canopies, the lion and the lamb together, the water dribbling perfectly over exquisite rocks and gems.
As we know, Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden and we won’t know that kind of perfection until we are in paradise with our God.
But, even with their expulsion, God went before them and took care of them. He clothed them and there was probably some sort of shelter provision, or He gifted them with the ability to create a shelter. Then, throughout the Old Testament, we become aware of Abraham and his family, and their nomadic lifestyle. Tents became a place of shelter for these people and eventually man learned how to build more permanent structures in which to live.
Most of us have homes, whether they are a cozy apartment, town house or single family home. And most of us have a ‘church home’…some of those churches meet in schools, some have a building, some have even used movie theatres to worship God. Sometimes I think we place too much emphasis on the ‘place’ we meet and not on WHO we are serving and worshipping. We sometimes lose sight of the fact that this world is NOT our home. Our homes, our church buildings, our work place buildings sometimes become the object of our praise…an idol, so to speak.
And I confess, that our ‘meeting place’ for Frederick East had become an ‘idol’ for me. We had this BIG, beautiful building, an amazing nursery and then all this NEW renovation that would also benefit us. For a moment, I lost sight of WHAT we were there to do and became wrapped up in loving the place where we were meeting too much. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a duty to be good stewards of the facility we use. But holding the building up as a primary ‘drawing factor’ to what we do at FEC is not what I should have been doing.
Over the last weeks and months, God has shown me that as long as HE wants FEC to keep opening her doors, HE will provide a ‘tent’ for us. Just that…a ‘tent.’ As we journey (and let’s face facts, we are homeless!), we may have multiple meeting places. For the last two years, He provided an amazing ‘tent’ in which we could meet. But it was NOT His plan to keep us in that ‘tent’ for more than this year. What is interesting, though, is that He was already at work preparing the new ‘tent.’
As we have met with the church ‘council’ at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (a church that we had discounted early because initial reports were that they had 6 classrooms), we learned that about two years ago, they began a renovation process, largely to bring their building up to ‘code.’ This sweet group of folks is community minded and grasping for ways to become more visible in the community. Many classrooms in the building aren’t used on a regular basis and they desired to see this change. As I met with them, I was sensing that God was ‘breathing new life’ into this congregation and facility. And somehow, we fit into that.
As our meetings progressed, there was a sweetness in sensing the partnership that was developing. They were EXCITED about how the building had been fixed up and how we might be able to use it. The nursery and seven classrooms that have sat quiet and largely empty for so long were now getting fresh coats of paint, new floors and were being cleaned out. The fellowship hall and parish hall are also fresh and need some noisy children to fill the walls.
There is a beauty and charm to an old church building. Stained glass windows line the sanctuary and pondering the history of those that came before could easily distract us on school days! Many have been married there, baptized there and many have worshipped the one true God there. Now, students will learn there.
I find it uncanny that with the two sanctuary spaces, the 8 dedicated classroom spaces, the very large kitchen and the fellowship hall, PLUS the Parish Hall classroom space and a newly created room in the basement, we have 14 spaces (and a couple other nooks and crannies). Guess how many spaces we are currently using at Calvary? Yep…14. We will need one more than that next year with our growing high school, but remember, I mentioned some nooks and crannies!
And we weren’t just looking to ‘rent.’ We like to partner and ‘help’ promote the ministries of the church. There will be many opportunities…they do a Strawberry Festival, a German Dinner, host a ‘clothing bank’ in the basement (I am currently in negotiations to see if the bank can be opened twice a month for us to donate AND shop…the deals are AMAZING as Mrs. Danchik and Mrs. Jernigan can attest!).
So, we have a new ‘tent.’ The contract is being drawn up, we are all very like-minded in how things should proceed and plans are moving forward. I am humbled and overwhelmed at God’s provision. It may be for a year, it may be for ten. God doesn’t usually reveal that information and we must learn to trust day by day. As we met to discuss the contract, several of the council members shared that they had been praying for ‘something’ over the last two years. They didn’t really know what they were praying for…new ‘life,’ new ‘ministry,’ they weren’t really sure. When our e-mail arrived, they knew that God had answered. ‘It was a no-brainer….this is what we had been praying for,’ said one of the members.
Delight in knowing that not only were THEY an answer to our prayer, but WE were an answer to theirs. We serve an extremely creative God.