Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nomadic Church

We move into new space this week.

A sanctuary. 
That was a church.
That is now a full time school.
Soon to be a full time school and part time church.

Jesus said that foxes have their dens, and birds their nests but that he had no where to lay his head. He didn't own property. Didn't own a building. Trusted there would be a space for him at the end of each day.

I wish I had that much faith. Every time we change locations - for good reasons or ill - I wonder where we will land next. Will it be worshipful? Will there be room for our few belongings: chalice and paten, altar cloths, candles, hymnals... crayons, children's books, offering basket, things that make our worship space lovely?  And since we inevitably share space: will our 'stuff' be there the next time we gather for worship? Even more important: are we welcome in our space? 

The answers have been: sometimes it is worshipful and if not we will do what we can to make it so. Sometimes there is room for our belongings. Sometime the trunk of my car becomes a rolling storage area. Sometimes our stuff is there, sometimes it is broken or missing or...
Sometimes we are deeply welcomed into the space we share. Sometimes not.

So this week as we enter new space these things I know. 
It is worshipful. We will meet in a former sanctuary where gospel has been sung, sermons preached, weddings celebrated and funerals held. We share a building filled with the children during the week. Children laughing and running and singing and learning and playing. How sacred is that?

There is room for some of our things. For the things we need each week, the rest to be stored offsite. The room for our things is secure.

We will discover how welcome we are, but my gut (or experience) says I'm feeling pretty good about it. The attitudes and energies of the people we have met are warm and friendly.
I am excited and hopeful. 

We have a place to lay our heads. Not a place to own. Not a place to define us. We have to define ourselves in other ways. We have to own our spiritual walk in different ways. 

The question of space overloaded council discussions for years. For me it boiled down to: how do we provide hospitality with space we have access to only a few hours a week?

It is a question we still wrestle with. So far, this is what I know: worship has to be as welcoming  as we can make it.  (we're better at some times than others) And hospitality has to do with expansive spirituality, expansive community, expansive thinking, expansive prayers.  We start with a small scale of being hospitable to ourselves and to one another. We stretch to be hospitable to all we meet.  We stretch to make our thoughts hospitable, our prayers, our lives. And we stretch to be hospitable to the making of justice for all people, not just the ones in our comfort zones.

We have learned a lot by being a nomadic church. When I finally accepted that we were never going to own or have a building I let go of the stress and judgment I had about what makes a 'real' church and leaned into who we really are.  Like Jesus, not owning a building frees us to do and be other things.  

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