I was just thinking of a television special I saw last year about a Christmas tree farm. It sort of disappointed me and I’d wished I hadn’t watched it. Love pine trees, love the way the branches smell, love the look and color and scent in the lumber from a pine tree. Mmmmmm! Why my disappointment? They paint their trees so they will look like a “Christmas tree is supposed to look.” Didn’t God get it right when He created them?
I also thought of when I learned to paint and draw. It always disappointed me, in those early days, when I looked at my finished field of grass in a painting and saw how “wrong” my grass looked. I used green paint. Grass is green, isn’t it?
The true definition of something, the true meaning of a thing, isn’t necessarily our quick assumption or easy answer. So, what brought this to mind? A friend of mine just excitedly announced that her place of worship, her “church” just bought a real church building. My friend is very active in her church. It’s been meeting in a variety of available and affordable buildings. When you think of church, do you think of a cute country church painted white with a picket fence, double doors swung open to welcome the local faithful? Do you see a bell and steeple and stained glass windows with small brass engraved signs saying “in memory of . . . ” hung next to the windows?
Perhaps your mind sees a big cathedral of stone that’s been there for hundreds of years? Perhaps you can hear in your thoughts the echo of hundreds of years of shoes clonking across the stone floors. Can you see the old well-worn and polished wooden pews? Hear the sound of the of the magnificent pipe organ?
Those are churches . . . but they’re not “the church” for that is you and me. My friend has every right to be excited about her church and its new building which was built specifically to be a church. I’m excited for Mary and her fellow worshippers, but do you know what I’m more excited about? I’m more excited that she’s been every bit as eager and joy filled about the “church” she’s belonged to all along whether services took place in somebody’s livingroom, the ball field, or an empty store at the mall. Church can be anywhere there’s a believer or two and the presence of our loving Lord.