The Core Sunday Gathering
December 4, 2011
A New Chapter
-Today is our final gathering in this place
-It’s not the end for us as a group, or for the vision God gave us for downtown
-But it is the end for us as an organization, and as a venue
-So I’m going to take you into the world of King David for just a few minutes
To get some perspective on venues and organizations… especially to get God’s perspective
1 Chronicles 17:1 After David was settled in his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, "Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the LORD is under a tent." 2 Nathan replied to David, "Whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you." 3 That night the word of God came to Nathan, saying: 4 "Go and tell my servant David, 'This is what the LORD says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in. 5 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up out of Egypt to this day. I have moved from one tent site to another, from one dwelling place to another. 6 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their leaders whom I commanded to shepherd my people, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?"
-David felt ashamed that he had a big house made of cedar, and God only had a tent
-His desire was to make God’s place permanent and grandiose
-Turns out this actually was God’s will, but not for David… instead it was his son Solomon’s job.
-But it seems like, in today’s church, we think the same way David did.
-Convinced that God needs this building or that institution to do him justice.
-And he does use those things for his purposes, just like he did with Solomon
-But if we’re not careful, we’ll rush forward and build something for God without even asking
-And God will look at it and say, “Did I ask for a facility? Or an organization?
Haven’t I worked through you and moved among you without those things?”
-Today we’re coping with that humanity in us that treasures our buildings and our stuff.
-Because we grow attached to our environment around us, and it’s not easy to let go.
-Everything I look at in this building has a story, and brings back some kind of memory
-I remember 4 feet below this spot, the first thing that ever happened in this building (sprung a leak)
-I also remember a very icy day in February when the roof leaked in 6 places (including onto the piano)
-I remember everybody wondering the story behind that rectangular gap in the roof
-I also remember wondering if such a fancy chandelier would work in here,
and how nobody asked about the gap after we installed it…. They only noticed the chandelier
-I remember all the amazing generosity… the day one guy donated $5000 to build the coffee bar
And the day another guy volunteered to build it single-handedly for free
-I remember watching the drywallers seem to risk their lives by working while sitting on top of the air ducts
-I also remember nearly killing myself in Little Rock trying to rescue these tables and chairs from a storage unit
-A lot of my memories spring from the events we had
-I remember filling up that parking lot beside Nonna’s with a garage sale
-I also remember filling up that parking lot behind us with a block party, burgers, live music and a bouncey house
-I remember putting on a very successful fashion show when 130+ people packed in here
-And I remember putting on a very unsuccessful Rock the Vote concert when Obama came to town
-I remember tons of amazing, unforgettable concerts, and a few others I wish I could forget
-I remember discovering incredible talent at Open Mic Night, and at other times rallying around the underdog
-I also remember lots of Old Man Willie jokes
-I remember when our water didn’t work and Matt Theroff and I had to go get some from the print shop
-I also remember when a windstorm cut our power, and we had a concert and potluck in the dark
-I remember marrying some good friends… first Rob and Sandi, then Joy and Adam, on this very spot
-I remember saying goodbye to good friends… John and Sondra and Moises and Craig and Ruth and Emma
And Brian and April and several Lindseys and a whole lot more
-I can’t point back to a whole lot of big, fat spiritual victories. But I do remember a lot of little ones.
-The Front Porch has never been terribly quantifiable. We’ve never baptized anyone in here
-But I know that a lot of lives have been changed, and a lot of souls have moved closer to Jesus.
-And if we have to measure anything, I hope it’s that.
-In David’s day it really was important for God to inhabit a certain place
-Even when that place was made of cloth, and moved around a lot, like the Tabernacle
-God established a priesthood, and a holy place, so that his people could interact with him
-And so he could communicate with them.
-And the building of the Temple cemented that arrangement for hundreds of years
-But ever since the curtain split in two, and God’s holiness escaped from its little room
-So that we can know his will and his love and his forgiveness directly
-And so that when we gather together, we become the Body of Christ
-With or without a building, with or without a name or a logo or a website or a yellow pages listing.
-Of course, we’ll be joining with our brothers and sisters across the street at Canvas
-So we probably won’t even have to go without these things.
-But unless we know how little we really need them, we can never know what it means to be the Church.
-And unless we can function in any combination, in any place, at any time of the week
-Then these institutions and facilities will be our masters, and we’ll always be enslaved to them.
-I hope that everyone here continues on as a family across the street, so you can keep that bond
-But even if you don’t, take this with you…. You ARE the Church. You ARE the Body of Jesus himself.
-And if that’s real to you, then wherever you go, his Church will go with you.