Back in the second quarter of 2013 I first came into Christ Lutheran Church to interview with the Church Council. I’m not sure whether the congregation was really looking for an intern pastor. I don’t really know. In retrospect, many seemed quite happy with the Parish Ministry Associate who was here at the time.
But I sat there among the Church Council in the Bell Tower Room with the Bishop’s Associate, both fielding and throwing out questions out for discussion. I was facing north, and through the partially opened doors could seen the interior of the church – the nave replete with stained glass windows, red carpeting and pew cushions. I could see that the sconces celebrating Easter were attached to the pews.
Before I left that afternoon, I asked if I could go in and see.
The stately dark wood of the doors and trim, the pulpit and lectern give a sense of importance to the space. The vaulted ceilings, the pointed arches in the walls on either side of the altar direct those who enter this place to the transcendent – toward heaven. The pulpit and the lectern show the seriousness with which we take God’s Word and its permanence – there are no moveable fixtures here. The central place of the altar speaks of the sacrifice of Christ that is central to our life together; the red fabric behind that altar takes us back into images of the ancient temple where the LORD was worshipped for a thousand years before the coming of Christ. The cross there on the altar testifies to the salvation that was accomplished for us by God’s Son, who came and took human form that we might receive His righteousness.
But one feature of this place that is becoming rare, but that must not be missed is the communion rail. In our day this is becoming rare. It is the place where Christ comes to us in bread and wine. It is also a place to kneel in quiet prayer; to bring the lives of God’s people in this place before His throne in petition; to give thanks for the days of joy, to beg for mercy and deliverance on behalf of those who are in pain or in danger, and for me to ask the Father to give the Spirit of wisdom and understanding to me as the under-shepherd to the Good Shepherd called to this place.
I invite you to use this place. This is the house that your spiritual ancestors built, here in a new land. They built it that you might find the joy and comfort that they found – and that is still to be found – in God’s house. In His presence. In this House of Prayer.
“Also the sons of the foreigner
Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him,
And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—
Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And holds fast My covenant—
7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”