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

        -Things have been different. He has abandoned his temple of cedar, and rebuilt it inside each one of us.

        -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.