Monday, January 7, 2013

Church Is Not A Building, And Yet...

Do you this know childhood hand game? "Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people!"

When I was a child the game was a reminder that church is not a building; church is the people inside it. And as I grew older, I came to realize that church is each and every one of us, whether we find ourselves inside a church or, for whatever reason, have walked away. 

And still, I find myself drawn to beautiful church buildings. I like to worship in awe-inspiring places, in buildings that I think strive to reflect the glory of God and that help me to connect with the Mystery that called me into being.

In his blog, Roads from Emmaus, Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, pastor of St. Paul Orthodox Christian Church of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, points out "physical stuff has a spiritual side to it. And if that is the case, then that means that church buildings have a spiritual character, too."

This is the church I grew up in Chappaqua, New York. The floors would creak as I inched to the front of the long Confession line every Saturday afternoon. During Mass, I used to like to find a little nook among the pews by the stained glass windows.

This is the church where my husband and I were married.  Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh, NC is the smallest Catholic cathedral in the continental United States.  Isn't it sweet?

And here is the church in New Brunswick, NJ where my husband and I now worship. We renewed our wedding vows here, five years into our marriage. Both our sons were baptized here.

Since October 2011, our church has been  covered with scaffolding. It was so exciting to see the building with its "braces" off. This photo appeared on our parish's facebook page this afternoon.

I quickly "shared" it with my facebook friends with the comment "Our Beautiful Church!" I feel an affection for the church, the steeple, and all the people inside it. I want my friends to see this extension of my own heart and home.

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