18–24 February 2018.
For those of you who have been lucky enough to live in Europe or go on holidays there, you will know how wonderful it is to enjoy their great cathedrals. Every day tourists from all over the world flock to those ancient churches, walking through those historic buildings and marvelling at their beauty. And on Sundays believers go to those sacred spaces to worship God, to enjoy the quiet atmosphere of peace and devotion they provide. Those churches stand at the center of cities as great monuments to so many generations of faith.
This isn’t unusual. All through history people have created special places to meet with God. The ancient Hebrews, with their tabernacles and temples, were no different. The second half of Exodus goes into incredible detail describing how to build the tabernacle – this special place where the people could meet with God and worship him.
All through history people have built impressive places to worship God. But it makes me wonder: Where are our great churches today? Our modern technology and abilities are so much greater than in past centuries, but what’s happened to our great architecture? Where are our great cathedrals? Where are our great testimonies in stone to our faith in God?
When we look around us today, we find that our great architecture is no longer linked with our faith. Instead greatness is reserved for our shopping centres and office buildings, for banks and industry, and for sports-life rather than faith-life. Tourists come now to stare and marvel at Taipei 101, to walk through the high and elegant halls of shopping centers, to be impressed by grand sports stadiums, and take photos not of tall church spires but of the tall and sparkling office buildings that reach up to the sky downtown.
It’s an important truth to remember that the word “church” doesn’t mean a building; a church is the collection of people who meet in that building. But that’s not to say that the spaces we meet in are completely unimportant. Our churches are powerful witnesses to our faith and important public testimonies to our neighbours (and our children!) about the value that faith has in our lives. Great churches stand as monuments to the eternal story of our faith that continues generation after generation. Sure shopping centres are nice, but how wonderful it would be to have magnificent places of dignity, truth, and beauty where we could all come together to meet with God and worship him.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis