Go and rebuild my churchWhat Francesco Bernardone heard in 1206
Friends in Christ,
Mr. Bernardone has another more familiar name: Francis of Assisi. And he was visiting a small, nearly empty church on a hillside in Assisi in 1206 when he heard Jesus, painted on a cross, speak these words together: Go and rebuild my church, which as you see is falling into ruins. The rest is history. Because he did.
Although he didn’t understand what to do at first. He thought it was a masonry issue. It turned out to be more about theology and mission, prayer and community.
I have stood before that same cross and sat in that small church for many hours in Assisi. I keep a small model of it in my home. And Francis’ image (preaching to birds) is above my church office desk. Because his faith, inclusiveness, hope, trust and model inspire me.
Our church is not in ruins. At least I don’t think so. But this will be a year of rebuilding. And it’s not a masonry issue. It has to do with how we educate, celebrate, serve and even see each other, all of which requires building for the year ahead and building for the future. I look forward to seeing you in-person. But not all of our church wishes to be in-person. I long for something like “normal.” But if we’ve learned nothing else this year past, normal was not working for all the world anyway. Therefore we’re adapting to the needs of the hour.
Then, how do we rebuild? What does God want built? What do we need for shelter and for service and for each other? CE will remind us that Jesus is our carpenter, and more than a carpenter. Missions will demonstrate that with every passing day there are urgent, meaningful needs in our neighborhood and our world. Musicians will give glory to God and all of us — I pray — will say what we need for shelter and service and each other. We need everyone’s voice, for sure.
September comes with re-covenanting and reuniting and recalling that a message from 915 years ago is still fresh and urgent: rebuild my church, said Jesus. Because he loves it still, and it is the place where we find that love and spread it all around. It is where we listen to God.
Here we go again, in a variety of new ways…