I can remember when I was a freshman in college and first moved into my dorm room at Millsaps College. For awhile I would go to sleep feeling like I was just away at summer camp and would be returning home soon. Everything was new. While I was glad to be there, it didn't seem like home. Just like anytime I have moved to a new place, at some point along the way I'd realize that my new place finally felt like home.
As of yesterday, August 4th, the people of First Church have worshiped in the new sanctuary for a full year. While we still have a few things remaining to complete (I.e. organ installation and Chancel furnishing) the new space now feels like home. I'm not completely sure when the transition happened to me but at some point in the last year the new space became my home space for worship.
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4–5 )
As we were raising funds and building the sanctuary, 1 Peter 2:4-5 became a guiding passage for what God was doing in me and in the people of First Church. Building the sanctuary was only a small part of the incredible work God is building. As beautiful as the sanctuary is, it will always pale in comparison to the "spiritual house" he is building out of each of us. Instead of rigid bricks and mortar, we the building blocks are living and dynamic stones placed carefully upon each other to create a sanctuary where others will find a home.
The sanctuary God is building through communion with Him and each other, is not being built for the current membership of First Church. The sanctuary God is building is for the thousands of people in the Downtown area that do not have a community of faith to call home.
It is vital over the next year, that we all focus not on how to increase attendance at a weekly worship event but in how God desires to build the spiritual house and grow the community of believers we call First Church. I believe it is vital that each and every one of us view ourselves not as members or attenders of an organization and instead as missionaries to the people of Downtown Memphis. It is vital that each of us as living stones seek to allow God to make us even more alive in Christ
Grace and Peace,
Andy Rambo, Pastor