Revolution is doing a sermon series on the Fruits of the Spirit (series called, Mind Your Manners: Why Christians Should Be Good (without being jerks). Our pastor asked a few of us to write something (poem, devotional, etc) for some of the fruits. Each Sunday, one of us has spoken before the sermon. I took my turn last Sunday (written below.)
If you were given the option to pick a Fruit of the Spirit to discuss, which one would you choose?
I didn’t want self-control.
So I chose faithfulness. To talk about God’s faithfulness to me – that would be much easier. But my faithfulness to Him?…
My faithfulness to God has included such things as: lying, cheating, self-centeredness, resentment, anger, headstrong pride, ….love, forgiveness… hate, bitterness.
I have not always been stellar in the execution of showing faithfulness to God.
Are you familiar with the old Catholic church that is being demolished at 23rd and Benton Blvd?
Recently, as I drove past the church with my camera in the front seat, I pulled off to take some pictures of the disturbing process of the end of a church building’s life. Workmen were all around. Big machinery whose purpose seemed to be breaking the side walls of the church and removing stone from its exterior. Like vultures picking over the dead carcass of an animal, rescuing whatever ‘meat’ was left on the bones.
Doors broken from their hinges, I stepped just inside the church walls.
Pews were piled in a corner of the grand sanctuary. Stained glass windows were shattered – too much target practice from passersby wielding rocks and bullets.
The majestic choir loft in the back of the church, laden with ornate molding and pastel-colored paints, was half dangling from its elevated watch over the ghosts of a congregation past.
With each impact of the crane making contact with the stone outside, dust fell like rain inside the once-beautiful sanctuary – followed by clouds of debris…yet another step toward the old church’s eventual demise.
I dared not step very far inside.
My heart hurt. I have never seen a church being physically destroyed. I wondered what stories it held. It was easy to imagine the kids playing before or after church – running too fast, chasing each other with loud shouts of unprostituted glee.
I imagined the weddings. The pre-marital nervousness and the exactness to detail that each bride would feel…are the pews polished? Is the light coming in from the windows just right? Did someone clean up that stain on the carpet toward the back of the church?
[Another cloud of dust brought me back to the reality of the church standing before me that day.]
Pallets of stone were being wrapped in that Saran Wrap type stuff they use to bundle up large landscaping items for consumers. Other cranes picked up the large pallets, moving them and piling them in the parking lot nearby.
Each worker I spoke with kept pointing to the man on the big machine. “He’s the one in charge here.” I avoided his gaze, knowing soon my ability to walk around and shoot pictures was sure to come to an end with a gruff, “This is a hard hat area. You’re not allowed in here.”
As I was finishing up, camera filled with pictures, heart filled with dread, I heard “the man in charge” turn off the forklift’s engines. It was inevitable now. He climbed down the side and took a path directly toward me.
I knew it wasn’t his fault. He was doing his job. But the sacrilege of tearing down a church seemed too symbolic, too lighting’s-bound-to-strike-you-at-any-moment’ish.
I decided to speak first.
“This is quite a project you have here.”
And then, out of morbid curiosity I asked, “What will happen to the huge granite crosses? What will happen to the windows and other beautiful architectural features?”
I couldn’t help feeling a certain kindredness with this church.
…Wasn’t I originally created as a temple?
…Wasn’t I made to house the spirit of God?
Too often, however, I feel like this old Catholic church, barely standing before me. Cracked and falling. Leaning and crumbling. Bullets and stones piercing my attempts at stained-glass-window beauty. Stones being forceably ripped from my foundation.
I had spent an hour at this site, taking pictures, imagining these past triumphant scenarios, wondering what lessons I instinctively felt growing inside.
But it was the “man in charge” that changed my whole perception of the scene being played out before me…
“Actually,” he told me, “we are taking all the strong stones…those that are still in tact and haven’t crumpled away. We are preserving them and packaging them on pallets. The crosses and windows that are still standing will be saved.” He pointed to the big round window in the front of the church with the 12 openings. 12 openings that used to be 12 windows set in an ornate configuration of moldings and architectural splendor.
“That window will be carefully saved along with all these pallets of stone, the copper nails in the roof and the crosses along the rooflines…they’re all being sent to the new location of this church: The Twelve Apostles Church. They’re rebuilding the church, using materials from the original location.”
I haven’t walked the perfect Christian path. The Fruits of the Spirit? Mine are flawed and torn and chipped and often super-glued back together. My fruit bowl is filled with imperfect fruit.
But that’s okay.
God, “the man in charge”, is carefully picking through the rubble and extracting the strong stones. Those that haven’t been broken by time and misuse. He is saving the crosses and restoring the stained glass.
He’s building a new me. A stronger me.
He just needs me to be willing. To stay firm. To remain faithful to His call…no matter how unstable my faith might be at times. Faithfulness is both an attitude as well as an action.
Revelation 2:10 (NKJV):
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested. You will have tribulation.
But be faithful until death,
and I will give you
the crown of life.