On Sunday morning, the bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand, was interviewed on the radio. She was talking about the cathedral there, which was so badly damaged in the earthquake that it’s not going to be feasible to rebuild it. People in Christchurch are heartbroken by this, as the cathedral was an iconic landmark and considered to be the heart and soul of the city. Asked about the future, the bishop said they will build a temporary place of worship, and in about ten years time they will probably build a new cathedral. The bishop said, “What we must now do is become the living cathedral. Christians must embody that which we had projected onto a symbol and we need to become the heart and soul of the city ourselves.”
Church buildings have taken up so much of my time and energy over the years, and can so easily pre-occupy the congregations that occupy them – the building possessing the congregation. A lot of this is because our church buildings are no longer appropriate and we need to re-order them if our mission is to be less tightly controlled by them. This, plus routine repairs, plus the management of lettings to raise money for the church, plus fund-raising for bigger building projects, all greases its way into becoming the main object of our attention.
Three cheers for Bishop Victoria Matthews. The church is not the building. It is the people. The building is a means to an end – and only one means among many by which Jesus will build his living church.
4 thoughts on “Cleansing the temple”
Dear Alex, just found out about your blog from the URC magazine. Challenging thoughts about church buildings! Thanks for being so honest. Maybe we can get together some time to discuss how we ensure the buildings we have are only means to ends rather than ends in themselves. Best regards.
Sorry to take so long to reply, Simon.
I had a thought recently that you can only carry so much stuff in your soul – and that’s the sum of the material and the spiritual stuff. If it’s true (big ‘if’) I suspect it’s true for organisations as for individuals. All this material baggage clogs up our soul – and yet it’s so useful . . . and enjoyable. Coffee & cake sometime?
Yes that sounds like a good idea. We could fix a date when we meet as a fraternal group after Easter. Really enjoying your blog although I probably don’t share all your views on meat (yet!). Have a blessed Easter. Simon
Yes, I must remember to tell our fraternal [sic] host that I’m not eating dead animals . . . or live animals, for that matter.