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When Churches Close

A celebration of Kingdom work

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Three common seeds wondered about their life and purpose. Many were their thoughts about the future and their part in it. One day, the seeds came to rest on the soil and eventually became buried in the dark, cool earth. Each wondered and worried about life in such a space. Was this their purpose and future? Soon, moisture reached them. They began to sprout roots which wormed their way deeper into the soil and a stem which worked its way up and out of the earth.

In a short span of time, these three seeds became saplings — small and frail. Each wondered and worried about life in such a vulnerable state. Was this their purpose and future? Years passed, and these three saplings became large, strong and mature trees. They basked in the sun, rain and wind. They became shelters for animals and people. Each tree enjoyed life in such a space, but all still wondered: was this their purpose and future?

The day was ordinary in every way except one — they were cut down and moved away; each now called lumber and placed into workshops. Each grieved their lost space in the forest and anxiously worried about life in this strange place. What was to be their purpose and future?

Over time, one was crafted into a feeding trough for animals and called a manger, one was fashioned into a piece of furniture and called a table, and one was chiselled into an instrument of death and called a cross. Each was placed in a particular setting. What possibly could their purpose and future be, they wondered?

Time passed. As if by design, the manger became the bed for the Messiah, the table became the place where the Messiah’s Last Supper was celebrated, and the cross was where the Messiah was lifted up for the saving of humankind.

No longer did the three seeds, then saplings, then trees, then lumber and then crafted objects wonder about their purpose and future. For 2,000 years the manger, table and cross have been symbols to encourage and inspire countless Christians.

In God’s perfect economy, what we feel (and often fear) to be an ending is actually a beginning. Because born again is his promise.

Though churches may close, we remember how these faith communities:

  • lifted up worship to Almighty God,
  • declared Jesus as King of kings, Lord and Saviour,
  • sought the guidance and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
  • proclaimed the gospel,
  • were obedient to the commands of Scripture,
  • sought to fulfill the Great Commission,
  • practiced the Great Commandment,
  • prayed for God’s will to be done in and through them,
  • served the community and,
  • lived in fellowship and friendship.

A building will close its doors; a physical structure will complete its purpose for this time. However, not one of the 10 acts of kingdom activities I listed needs to end. The King has not released this faith community from kingdom work. He has only released its members from an attachment to a meeting house. He has opened the door for them to be light and salt in a different form. And so, go from here not asking, “Why did THIS happen to us, Lord?” but rather “What are you calling us to, now?”

For those who now find themselves former members of a church — I counsel you not to bear shame, guilt or regret. For this would not be from our Heavenly Father. Take heart in the truth that you acted faithfully and sacrificially to be ambassadors of the gospel.

Sisters and brothers, go from here poised for the ongoing mission of the Master. And, wherever God calls you to be on mission, like the three seeds that became a manger, a table and a cross — symbols of great encouragement and inspiration — go and be likewise.

Our loving Father in heaven, blessed be your name.
All glory, honour, and praise be yours, for you alone are worthy.
In you we live and move and have our being.
All that we are and all that we are stewards of comes from your hand.

Thank you for the history and work of your church.
Thank you for the witness of this faith community to its neighbours and beyond.
Thank you for the spiritual ripples that continue to go out from the work of this congregation.
Thank you for those who served faithfully and sacrificed deeply.
Thank you for those who, in this place, came to faith and those who matured in faith.
Thank you for this beautiful house of worship and the fellowship, friendship and joy that was experienced here.
Thank you for the Sunday school times, Sunday services, mid-week Bible studies, prayer meetings, Christmas pageants, potlucks, child dedications and baptisms that took place within these walls.
Shepherd, lead now the last of your faithful who have called this place home; lead them from this place to a new work.
May your love and grace be their bulwark, never failing.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 24-25

May God bless you, and as you go, continue to make you a blessing to others. Amen.

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