Rev. Chris Pollock
The ascension of Jesus means that Jesus has taken up authority and is now Lord over Space, Matter, and Time. (Didn’t get to read the last blog? No problem. Click here to catch up).
As a church, we want to purchase and restore an old church building in the heart of Midtown OKC. Now you might be saying, “What does the ascension of Jesus have to do with purchasing and restoring a building?”
Well, let me tell you.
The ascension means that Jesus is Lord over plain, ordinary, things: buildings, homes, schools, streets, neighborhoods, offices. Wherever you go, whatever you see, Jesus is Lord over that space. This makes that space sacred.
We need to take seriously that this place – this world that we reside in – the spot where we were called to plant a church is actually sacred space. We don’t want to retreat from this world. We want to brighten it.
There was a time when we forgot that it was sacred space. As the city changed, we forgot. We raced to follow the trends, but thanks be to God, He has invited us back.
Jesus is Lord over this space. He is renewing it. He is recreating it. And we want to be a part of it.
Therefore, because of the ascension, and what that means, our desire, from the beginning has been to find an old building and restore it.
- We think this is theologically appropriate.
A restored building is metaphorical. We want to be a community of hope and transformation that lives the way of Jesus. Ours is a church that we want to reimagine and restore… but it’s more than a building we are restoring. We want to bring hope and change to our city by making something old new again.
Ascension means that God’s Holy land, which has been spoiled and defiled is being restored and renewed, and that all of this, every bit of it, from caves to cathedrals, is sacred.
However, in certain spaces, there is awe. There is also recognition of the gap that seems to exist between us and God. And we need those spaces to remind us that our perception isn’t accurate. Jesus is Lord and Jesus chooses to renew and restore this space; so we work and toil to “practice” this. We call this: Worship.
We are considering purchasing an old church building in OKC. It will need a lot of work. But we believe, “This is a building that bespeaks the Christian faith. The narrative of faith which we seek to know – Jesus is Lord – and life is symbolically represented in this space… This is the visual image of the connection between the known and the unknown (earth and heaven)" (Webber).
Spaces reclaimed, like old church buildings, are sanctified places. They are useful for prayer and for worship – places where, when they are set aside, God can be known and felt more readily.
- We know that buildings tell stories.
If you would ask any architect, he or she will tell you that buildings/structures/facilities are story-telling by nature. They give insight into history and tell you about the people that were once there. Church buildings, however, are the “primary visual images of God’s work in the history of salvation” (Webber).
Because God is about the business of renewing and remaking the world, we want to give our efforts to that as well. The current owners of the church have been committed to that building because they see it as a reminder that we reside in sacred space. And while new developments could take it down, once it is down, “the spiritual stories it contained, and the story it told, are lost forever” (Webber).
- We take Sacred Space seriously.
The church that takes sacred space seriously does not retreat from the world but is a bridgehead to it. Buildings, worship spaces, are not just places for gathering, they are places for SENDING.
A building should be a bridgehead into the world!
Cities are places that need 1) places to work (jobs matter), 2) places to live (affordable housing matters), 3) places to play (relationships matter), and 4) “dedicated sacred spaces.” Spaces set aside for worship matter.
So – Let’s make something old new again. Why?
Because Jesus has taken up the authority of God in God’s created order…and is renewing all things!
Robert Webber, Ancient Future Faith, p. 108.