Empty pews and building bricks

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;
Through knowledge the rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

So says the writer of Proverbs (ch 24 v3,4. Proverbs is full of down to earth wisdom applicable to worldly life and also our spiritual life, and over the last few days, the two verses quoted above have been whispered afresh in my Spirit’s ear.

An empty church fills me with sadness, like an empty house an empty church cries out to be filled. This Sunday morning our little church was empty, well at least the pews were, if you have ever unlocked the door of an empty church and knelt down for a few moments, you will have been aware that you are not quite alone… A consecrated place is not an empty place,but all the same it is sad that more and more church buildings are not as full as they might be for the times of gathering, those times when God’s people meet together to celebrate His Presence in worship, in joy. Strangely, a church like ours can be full to capacity, standing room only for a funeral service, for a baptism service, but not on the Sabbath.

This Sunday, we were invited as a congregation to join the worship at a neighbouring Parish church, leaving our own church empty but even the church we visited had room and room to spare even with three congregations coming together. The church is becoming a lonely sparrow on a house top. During his sermon the Minister thanked the Lord for all His activities outside church walls, for God is still working through all kinds of individuals of all kinds of faith, even through those of no faith at all, but, all the same the sadness remains.

I sigh and see, once again, through the Spirit’s eye a new brick, this time a new brick dressed well with mortar, ready for laying in place, and hear a gentle whisper,

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down”

And I read the word inscribed on the brick, ‘Understanding’

I think that now, this time is not the time when God’s people should be tearing down but building, a time when we should be coming together not drifting away. And, my new brick, well, tomorrow I shall be opening the doors of the empty church to welcome a group of school children .. And I think once again of those chattering children who nearly a hundred years ago pulled out good bricks from the rubble of a burnt down church to rebuild the present one, and I am holding my breath…..

Lord by the wisdom you gave the church is built, by your understanding it is established, grant that by our knowledge of you, it’s rooms may be filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

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