Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Natural lighting…

One great thing about our sanctuary, I hope you agree, is the height and width and quantity of its windows. Not many churches have as open a view to the world around them as Plymouth Creek. Sure, in some cases all you see are bypassing buses and potholes in the parking lot! Sometimes that world isn’t as pretty as we’d prefer. Nevertheless, these windows let in so much natural lighting the internal lights can seem redundant. We tried showing afternoon movies in the sanctuary during this year’s Cinema Sermon Series, but had to retire to the Welcome Center/Narthex. Modern projectors, apparently, can’t handle that much light.

Beyond the brightened atmosphere this lends our church, especially in contrast to other dark and heavy sanctuaries, I appreciate the design’s symbolism. At our core, this church and its denominational family celebrate the openness of Jesus to all. We believe none are barred from sharing the bread and cup of Christ’s Table. All are invited and united by God’s love, and there’s nothing we can do about it! Thus, the divisions, the fighting and animosity that seem so endemic to human life are rendered null and void in our church (when we’re being who we’re called to be, that is…). We are one, always and already, because the Alpha and Omega, God our Divine Parent loves each of us as beloved children from everlasting to everlasting. That’s true if you come to church, if you sleep in, if you drive by giving us the one-finger salute. God loves the world God created and wants desperately for us to know that and live up to its high calling. Therefore, our church didn’t build walls where windows could be. We want to shine God’s love brightly; to open our lives and hearts as widely to our neighbors as God’s already done for them, and for us. Our new church vision is “to become a beacon of Christian openness and service in the NW suburbs,” and apparently our sanctuary windows, which let natural light in while shining supernatural Light in return, are in on the project.

As is now our land, or it likely will be soon. Per the Board’s decision at March’s meeting, the church is now in discussions with the city of Plymouth to open part of our lawn as an organic community garden for our neighbors.

I think that’s super cool, as you might expect. We’ve talked about this before as a way to use our resources to care for God’s earth and serve our neighbors, all at once. But we never took the plunge due to concerns about recruiting gardeners and having sufficient volunteers to tend the gardens. Well, the city forester contacted me awhile back, offering to manage those issues if we were willing to invite Plymouth gardeners onto our property. So I consulted church leadership and our ministry partners (the Child Care Center even expressed interest in cultivating a plot of their own), responded to many questions and concerns and with as much info as possible, the Board decided it was a worthy project to try.

The goal, then, is that on or around May 15 we’ll open 30 15’ x 15’ garden plots on the west lawn for our neighbors to grow their own organic food this summer. If at season’s end, it turned out to be a horrible inconvenience, then we’ll shake hands with the city and say, “Well, we tried.” But I’m praying, even expecting, that won’t happen. I’ve seen community gardens be a wonderful ministry for enough churches around the country that I’m convinced it can be so for ours too. And besides, why should the windows get all the fun?! Why can’t we shine Christ’s light of love by our opening our land in service to our neighbors?! Some might call that a mixed metaphor, but when the soil attracts others to come and see how loving God includes caring for Creation and sharing resources to build community, that’s as bright a beacon as any halogen lamp I know. Natural lighting, indeed.

Grace and Peace,

P.S.- Happy Easter! Best day of the year, always! Come shine with us 10 AM, April 24.

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