May 27, 2020by Reverend Dan on May 27, 2020
“Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also.”
Church outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine!
Talk about a journey into yesteryear. I remember outdoor church as a child under the shelter at Kirkland Grove every August for revival. And many summer Sunday’s before air conditioning I remember having the windows of the church open and a breeze blowing through. All those memories came flooding back on May 17th when Union Ridge gathered for the first time since COVID-19 hit.
Once the governor made the announcement that we were good to go outside, I sent the deacons a five-page plan outlining what I believed we needed to do moving forward. After a few days to read it over and a few changes, we all agreed it was time to start. The deacons then worked for days to implement the new guidelines to make everything as safe as possible.
The congregation was notified, and on Sunday morning when folks started arriving, those who wished to remain in their cars were parked in one area of the parking lot with a view of the “pulpit” area. Some got creative and backed their trucks into the spots and sat in chairs in the bed of the truck. The ones who brought chairs to sit on the lawn were directed to the other side of the church to park, then they walked with their chairs to the lawn and settled in. (I wasn’t there to see how the seats in the shade were decided – I’m guessing it was first come, first serve. Either that or I missed a really good brawl on the church grounds.)
When the bell rang there were 130 people there. Clarice sang a few songs; we had a prayer and I preached a sermon about giving thanks no matter what your circumstances, we had the benediction . . . it was just a wonderful day.
A few folks even commented on how good I looked. That was because that morning they got a view of my “best side”. Outdoors, far away, the glare of the sun in your eyes, through a windshield.
The day continued to be a “throwback Sunday” for me because when we got home, my wife had cooked baked beans and deviled eggs and potato salad (and I burned a few hot dogs on the grill). It felt like dinner on the grounds.
As I sat that night thinking about the day’s events, I realized how fortunate we are to have nice facilities at our church. But I also realized that the building we were outside of is not the church. The church that day was out on the lawn and in their cars, worshipping together and feeling that sense of connection that only comes with the presence of God. And I realized that all over the world: whether it’s in a nice sanctuary, or on the lawn and parking lot . . .whether it’s under a tent in the jungles of a third world country, or hiding in the basement of a house in a country that forbids Christian worship . . .the church really is the people of God who make it up. And the thing that binds them together – whether it’s two or two thousand – is the presence of God. He has promised He would be there, and He is.
Thanks be to a God who hears us no matter where we worship Him from. And thanks be to that same God who brings us together as His children and as His church.
“Father, Thank you for the church that Your Son gave His blood to build. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”