Among the myriad stories in the Bible about building, I have discovered a sense of kinship with the people of ancient times who took on a rebuilding project out of a sense of memory and hope. These people remembered a past in which they and their community were thriving; a time in which their predecessors had honored God with the quality and beauty of their construction. They hoped for a future that would manifest continuity with the past; a time in which they would be able to proclaim God’s goodness and share God’s blessings with others. When asked to identify themselves and their project, they said, “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished” (Ezra 5:11).
I can’t think of a better name for who and what I’d like to be than a servant of the God of heaven and earth! I admire the group of builders who declared this to be their identity and purpose. They were being watched by people who wanted to see their permits and possibly did not have the builders best interests at heart! They were trying to advance their own livelihood while also working on their shared project. They were volunteers, stretching their time and energy so as to be part of a worthy community endeavor. And they knew the source of their strength; they were proud of their heritage.
Like those ancestors in faith, we are building a new building on a familiar site. Happy preschoolers and Sunday School families loved the old buildings on this plot of ground, and used them so well they eventually fell apart. Now we get to recreate the function of a healthy place for learning and growing by putting up a brand new building using the best design and construction strategies currently available. Should anyone ask us what we are doing and why, we can say we are renewing our mission for the next generation. We can say we are eager to honor God and share God’s grace through our efforts.
I am glad to be here at RHUMC during such exciting and rewarding times, even though the excitement and rewards come with a certain amount of inconvenience and low-level chaos. Each day, obstacles are overcome and new developments unfold. When the individuals and families of our church’s future look back on our current undertaking, I imagine them doing so with gratitude. I certainly appreciate those who established the patterns of love and trust that we now follow.
May this season of building bring us joy!