East Elevation.1There are lots of good nonprofit organizations that do meaningful work in the community and world.  If we look back on the history of the property and missions of these organizations, we will see a story that begins to illumine.  Does their history tell a story of survival or thriving?  Is it one of adaptation, constant, or stagnant?  Does it vividly highlight the organization's mission, vision, items of importance?  Yes.  Let’s think about specifically Christian organizations.

In the spring of 1640, a group of English Puritans left Massachusetts, to settle in Long Island NY.  They went to the New World to find freedom from religious persecution and other opportunities.  The church first gathered in the Community Meeting House.  It served them well for twelve years for social, civic, and religious activities.  They established and built a new structure by 1652.  Tons of churches planted, grew, and built bigger structures over the years.  Different types of churches began to pop up with varying beliefs.  Churches were looking to plant with intentionality; where they were located, how they looked, what they did inside the church and outside of the church mattered.  Some moved to inner cities, some moved out of the center, and structures varied based on the important focuses of the church. 

First Presbyterian Church, Madisonville is a church built on the faith, dedication, and discernment like so many other beautiful churches.  Some of those structures are full and yet others are reflecting the truth of the rapid decline in western Christianity.  Churches are closing, merging, reimagining, and those places and those people are flourishing...growing deeper in their relationship with God and one another, reaching the community in new innovative and necessary ways.

Here's the hard part about being in the wilderness: we must let go of what seems comfortable, “ours”, and safe.  Releasing it to God isn’t easy because amid anxiety and chaos we begin to grab hold of “our” things.  What once may have sounded like a good idea to allow a community chorus to use the building for weekly practice begins to become less appealing several months later when “our” space suddenly feels unavailable.  However, often we just need a reminder that the church property is God’s property and we’ve just been instructed to care for it, use it for Christ’s mission in the world, and to remember that church is the people and there’s always room. 

God of grace, open our eyes to see you in the faces of our neighbors.  Remind us that everything we have is not only gifted from you but also held in our care.  We are to be good stewards over it as we listen, care, pray, and hold all your children.  Thank you for the many gifts that you have so generously shared with our church family.  Give our congregation clear direction on how we may continue to be a faithful church family, using this amazing church property with a way forward that includes sharing your great love with those big and small. In Christ’s name, Amen.