Monday, November 21, 2005

Blog for my Faithful Readers

I thought since Josephina has a link to me, I should write every now and then…

I am sorry to disappoint, but I just don't have very many thoughts to share.  However, I thought of something I have been thinking about lately that I could write down.

The other day at church, the minister/pastor/person-at-the-front was commenting on how energy costs would be increasing this winter and how everyone would probably have to expect to pay more money for their heating bills.  This is what I was thinking in my head, "Soon they will mention a way for people to be supported during this difficult winter - perhaps a special offering to help pay for heating bills or something like that."  Therefore I was not expecting what would come next, "Since heating costs will rise this winter, we need to make sure to be ever-faithful in our tithing, because we also need to heat the church."  (Not exactly what they said, but the same idea).  Yikes that frustrated me. 

Why is it necessary for people to help pay to heat a (very) large building that is probably only used maybe 20 hours a week?  Most homes have someone (maybe only a pet) in them most of the day long while I have had sanctuary lights turn off on me while conversing with a fellow church-goer after church so they could lock the doors and close up shop! 

Now, this issue would not be an issue if another idea of mine was implemented.  A short story to illustrate my point:

            It is a cold Saturday evening, with first snowflakes of winter beginning to swirl about the streetlights.  Walking down the empty street is a (homeless man/teenager kicked out of home for the night/poor college student/enter needy person of choice here).  Hands in the pockets of his too-thin coat, he walks quickly down the street, aiming for no particular destination but simply to keep warm.  He sees a woman ahead, small plastic letters at her feet.  She seems to be putting them on a signboard of some sort.  "First Christian Church" the signboard says.  Not wanting attention, he puts his head further down into his chest and starts counting the sidewalk cracks. 

            "Good evening!"  the letter woman calls out.  Disappointed he has been noticed, the man raises his head slightly, still hoping it was someone else the woman was talking to.  "You, sir?"  She tries again.  He has definitely been found out and looks up once more and meets the gaze of this woman, putting letters on the signboard.  "It sure is a cold one tonight, isn't it?"  she says, looking at his hands in his pocket.  He nods, acknowledging her but continuing to walk quickly, hoping to pass her and the conversation he doesn't want to have.  "You know, I was putting up this sign, I meant to do it earlier, but have been busy all day.  It's about a special service we are having tomorrow morning.  It's going to be great!  We're even having a potluck lunch afterwards."  He nods again, trying to walk more quickly, still hoping she will stop talking soon so he can continue on his journey.  "Maybe you would be interested in coming sir?  It starts at 8 AM.  Oh, and don't be worried about dressing up, we're very open here and welcome all types, not that you are any particular type.  It's just, we want everyone to feel welcome.  You know, it's supposed to be a cold day tomorrow too, so even if you stop by just to have lunch or want to be in a warm place with other people, please feel welcome to come." 

Well, I'm not very good at story telling so I will stop there, but basically, wouldn't it be nice if the church could actually be open to people in need at all times, not just on Sunday morning?  Someone is paying to heat these huge buildings week-round and no one gets to use it!  Very disappointing.  I think they should offer "free housing" for anyone who wants it.  Tenants could work for their rent, maybe 5-10 hours a week, cleaning, kitchen duty, I don't know.  I'm sure there is opportunity to be taken advantage of, of course, but it still seems like a better display of God's love in action than what I currently see.

Well that probably wasn't very well formed…but those are some thoughts from today...


Jo said...

i appreciate this post julia. it would be nice if we weren't so worried about having stuff stolen from our sanctuaries (i think God was pretty good about protecting his own dwelling places in the OT anyway) to care a little bit more about humanity. but alas, this is north america, and we need to have a materialistically appealing environment in order to worship comfortably. Forget that there might be others who are cold. They might not be trustworthy.

Anyway, one of the things I appreciated about my parents back when we were pastoring, is that they insisted that the church remain unlocked. This is because the church was the only public building in this small towns of 100-261 population, and perhaps someone might need a refuge on a cold winter night. In all our 7 years of pastoring, nothing was ever stolen or vandalized. Because our towns didn't have a gas stations, road weary passengers sometimes came in to use our restrooms. To me, this might be what Jesus would consider, "a cup of cold water."

Jo said...

ps. come to think of it: we never heated entire church buildings during the week, only the pastor's office. someone came ahead of time to turn on the heat for bi-weekly fellowship hall events.

matthew said...

yes, i know our church (and i think most churches) have their heating systems set to only heat the building during service times. Our heat comes on 1 hour before the service and stays on for 2 or 3 hours I believe.