One of my very first excursions after our arrival to the Northwest was up the 3 to Bremerton with the hopes of seeing the ferry to Seattle. Along the way we discovered a little town that ever since has held a sweet spot in our hearts.
In the Port of Allyn is an Old Wooden Church on the corner, near the pier and park. Rarely do we pass this way without turning at the church and stopping to overlook the water (And of course we’re always hoping to see an Orca).
Aside from the beauty of the land and the sea, my thoughts are also about this little white wooden church. What hopes did the people have when they came to this now little port town? What faith did they hold to build this church to give thanks to Him and to encourage each other with that Peace of God that passes all human understanding? What confidence in God’s Provision and Providence did they exhibit that would bring comfort to those who witnessed the building of, and continued care of this testament to faith that would be this small white wooden church on the corner?
My thoughts now go to our own little church. No longer where we first began but in a newer and larger building than the one in which we started, but the questions remain the same. What hopes did our predecessors have when they chose to plant the church here in Shelton 96 years ago? What faith was exhibited in the gathering of the people, and the building of a church in our community? What comfort and peace were shared within our walls as we tended to one another and supported one another and shared the Peace of God with one another? How do we hold to these questions today?
Sadly, I see the little wooden church restored as a landmark, but I haven’t observed the use of the church for the purpose of God. How many other churches have I seen that are now abandoned, sold, and reused for a far different purpose than the one it was first built for? What will the future of our little church be? What do we want for it to be and why? Does our building still serve a purpose? Does it serve the purpose for which it was built? Does it need to? Will the Lutheran Church in Shelton continue and be strong without the building? What if we might be approaching a time in our country when the Building can now longer be sustained, and our worship no longer be acceptable in public?
Last month we returned together to the Empty Tomb. We recalled the testimony of the first Apostles, and we encountered the Risen Savior in His Word and His Sacrament, and yet we also witnessed many who did not make that journey with us. It’s time for us to reach out to our brothers and siters and encourage them that now is the time to return to the empty tomb and to be touched by the Christ!
If we cannot encourage, equip, comfort, and console each other in our needs and to share the confidence of our faith with each other, and share together the Peace of God as He has provided it to us, then how can we ever hope to be doing the same to those around us and within our communities?
Our church has been built. There is no witness to its construction. We are at the end of a road with no passing traffic. We have little impact on the daily commute. We are surrounded by large trees and forest and so not likely to have our active worship and ministry life observed in action. Our building is no longer the witness of our faith and so what does this mean? The answer has never changed: We are to be the church in the community we find ourselves and to be the witnesses to Christ in and among the people. When we do this, we will no longer need to worry about our future for we are being the church in the present. I do pray that our building not ever be abandoned as it is useful for a great purpose. I do pray that our presence in the community reflects the Hope and Peace of Christ that sustains us. We preach Christ and Him Crucified. This is our purpose and our hope.
Happy Easter! He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!!