Picture Your Picture

Imagine. You’re at the kitchen table of your youth. Legs swinging under the chair, two Oreos on standby, the noise of a radio, cooking, and laughter vaguely registering from a distance. In front of you, standing proudly and scented with magic, is a brand-new box of crayons – a box grand enough to include its own sharpener. You are now either required or inspired to draw a picture of your church. What would follow?

Would you draw a plain brown box, a few grumbling siblings, a station wagon speeding away? Would you draw a joyous swoop of stained glass, a funny preacher, a waddling puppy, a golden chalice full of red Life? What kind of new picture would be hanging on the fridge before dinnertime? How do you see your church?

My 6-year-old brought home such a picture from religious ed class yesterday. He had crayoned four distinct buildings, each one topped by a cross. What a message: he sees our church not just as that place that he must (yes, he must!) attend on Sunday, but also as a long line of sanctuaries: each one designed for a different kind of communion. A building for worship, a building for learning, a building for working, a building for socializing. A place, all together, where neighbors become a holy family. Sometimes the waxy lines of each building’s purposes are blurred, and that’s okay, because each one remains solidly under – and for – the cross of Christ.

My favorite part of this picture is the (surprisingly clear) portrayal of an “interruption” in all the architecture: two green tomato vines boasting round, bright red fruit. Our victory garden. Again, to this child, our community is more than just the bravely singing, jointly worshipping, hand-shaking Mass Of People that he can’t really see around on Sunday morning; it’s also a place for reaching out in love to people we don’t even know. A place we have built together. A place for God.

The LORD tells us how to continue to build our church, just as he told Moses: “Take for me an offering; from every man whose heart makes him willing you shall receive the offering for me…. gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet stuff and fine twined linen, goats’ hair [that’s cashmere, by the way!], tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.” (Exodus 25:2-8, emphasis and sidenote mine)

What kind of treasure does your heart make you willing to bring here, to add to the beautiful picture? Or: How would our church look on your fridge?