>In the Sanctuary, All Alone, After the Consecration


It has been a whirlwind the past week. Heck, it’s been a whirlwind over the past month…and years. A lot of time, energy, thought, prayer, work, stress, passion, hope, vision, study, worry, money, and celebration has been put into our building. And, it’s not done yet. A lot more will be put in in the coming months and years. At times it has been emotionally and physically overwhelming.

But today was the day we were Consecrating our New Building — Our building that still doesn’t have heat or running water or many lights. But today, with our Bishop and Superintendent and Director of Connectional Ministries present, along with folks from the community, we were setting it apart for “holy purposes.”

I don’t know how many people were at our building consecration today. I didn’t count.

At 10 AM we had one special worship service, with our Bishop, Grant Hagiya, preaching. Our 8:30 folks were there plus some 70 or so other people. We sang “The Church’s One Foundation” and “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and “The Summons.” The Bishop preached on Acts 2:42-47 saying “The Work Of Ministry Is Just Beginning.” He reminded us that the church is not a building and he told a wonderful story about a church being “high-touch” for his family after his mother had died. That…that is what the church is called to be.

There was a whirlwind of activity over in the new church afterwards as we set up for the pot-luck and consecration service. There were a lot of people and I was very thankful that we had a number of community folks there as well. It all went beautifully. We’re fully consecrated. The bishop said so, therefore it must be true.

We raised our Ebenezer — our “Stone of Help” monument — in the rain.

A handful of us stayed to clean.

People went home.

I was left in that big, new, unfinished church. I was worn out. I was relieved. I was sad that there were a few persons who weren’t there that I really wanted to be there. I was alone. It was quiet. Just the sound of the rain running off the roof behind me.

This was a holy time. As I sat there, up where the pulpit will be in the near future, I soaked it all in. Over the past six summers ‘ve seen a lot of work take place here. I actually don’t know exactly how many work teams we’ve had and I have no idea how many individuals. I know we’ve had three site managers. I couldn’t tell you exactly how many contractors. I sat there looking around and, in my mind picturing all the many hands that have worked to construct this place.

I could picture the floor being blessed. I could picture the walls being put up. I could picture the foundation being laid. I could picture the scaffolding being climbed. I could picture the giant timbers being put together. I could picture people gathering and eating and worshipping. I could see the faces, the hands, the work, all that went into it and all the work behind the scenes.

Lord, this has been a big project.

Sometimes as pastor I can feel like a Lone Ranger, like everything depends on me and God working it out. Now, I know this isn’t true, but it can feel that way…sometimes. Sometimes I feel more important, bigger, than I am.

But, sitting there in that chair, soaking it all in, I felt very small, as if I’d been swept up in a movement much bigger than myself, a God-movement. That, I believe, is a healthy perspective. There is no doubt that I’ve given much of my life to this congregation, to this community, to this church building. But, it’s not me. It hundreds…thousands…of hands under the direction of our all-powerful, awesome God.

Tomorrow the contractors show up again. Hammers. Nails. Saws. Hopefully we’ll have heat by the end of the week. Hopefully. It will be a hotbed of activity and I’ll be faced with the immediate tasks that need to be accomplished. And soon we’ll be in that space and we’ll be looking at ministries to begin and worship to be held. And there will be bills and bills and bills and bills. Sigh…

But there, alone in the sanctuary, I got to spend some time seeing the whole picture. I felt small in the presence of all those others who have been along this journey with us…with me.

It was a holy time.


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