Tuesday, March 19, 2013
No Marker Needed
Once upon a time there was a beautiful stretch of road surrounded on both sides by large spacious fields filled with crops growing toward harvest. For over thirty years I have traveled that road watching it slowly change from rural to urban. Where farmers once coaxed crops from soil, urban planners now cover the black dirt with sheets of concrete joined together by unending ribbons made of gray asphalt. A landscape once covered with straight rows of corn and soybeans is now adorned with the banners of fast food and the sprawling undisciplined clutter of suburbia. A part of me grieves every time I pass along that way. Yesterday's journey was no exception.
Today, though, was like the final straw. Maybe, the final twist of the knife. A small wooden frame church which I have watched for years was jacked up and sitting on a huge trailer ready for night to fall so it could be slipped quietly out of its holy place to some other life. Long years ago the congregation left, either as those who had departed to heaven, or as those dispersed by the pressures of urban squeeze. When the people left, a sign reading "For Sale" was planted in the ground and now it, too, is gone, having served its purpose as did the church building. Passing by, it seemed that the secular urban culture had finally squeezed the life out of it. Next time I pass that way, it will be gone. Someone should put a marker on that holy ground saying people once encountered God on that spot, but it is only something to think about, not a reality to expect.
I wondered as I sped on down the road if one day someone might put up a marker on the earth saying, "A Church once lived and breathed here." And then I remembered something Jesus said,"...I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." (Mt.16:18) Ah, yes. If the church can push down the gates of hell, then it will surely not fall when squeezed and pressured by a secular culture which seeks to take its place in the world. No marker will ever be needed.