The following was written by a retired pastor who loves to travel and enjoys visiting church buildings all over the world. He and his wife visited Immanuel last summer. In all his travels Immanuel ranks as one of the most memorable churches.
A Love Affair with Church Buildings
By: A World Traveler
Psalm 84:1-4 & 12
1. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! 2. My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. 4. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
I have long had a love affair with church buildings. I love cathedrals, country churches, and small town church buildings. I love traditional buildings, modern worship spaces, and ancient designs. The only worship spaces I do not love are the arena type which have little or no symbolism in them to point to Jesus. I am so in love with church buildings that I truly can recall which ones moved me to speak like the Psalmist does here. Rightly or wrongly I think of worship spaces as places which can give us a foretaste of the courts of the Lord.
There is a cathedral in Santiago, Chile whose inside is covered with gold leaf. When I went inside there were Masses taking place in some of the side chapels, confessions being made along one wall, and people kneeling in prayer all over the building. It was a living, breathing, place of faith whose every niche and corner shouted out praise to God Almighty and it drew from my lips "How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty." There is a beautiful church built out of native stone in Mountain Home, Arkansas where the altar stands before huge windows which reveal the forest and mountains of Arkansas in all their God given splendor. We worshiped there once and my thought was I hope I never tire of the beauty God surrounds us with. There is a Lutheran Church building in Absarokee, Montana where the building itself seems to say "You are welcome here". That small congregation also knew how to fill the courts of the Lord with singing. There was a Stave Church in Norway which, it seemed to me, dripped history of Norwegian Christianity which is part of my family history. I walked into the church in Wittenberg, Germany where Luther lived and heard a group of Polish Christians sing a "Mighty Fortress is our God" in Polish. So powerful. There was a beautiful cathedral in Budapest, Hungary. We were there on a Saturday when there were eleven weddings scheduled. It Reminded me how our faith and the places we gather to celebrate God's love in Jesus really do touch all of life. In Mexico we visited a cathedral one Sunday where the whole worship space was open to the outside. There was a Baptism and I remember thanking God for His gracious gift of baptism which makes us His children. Then there was the church building where I served last which was worshipful in its simplicity. It always felt like such a place of peace to me.
Church buildings stand as witnesses to the presence of God in this world. The great cathedrals of the Middle Ages drew people's eyes toward heaven and in their windows and statues and paintings helped people learn the story of Salvation in Jesus Christ. Churches stand as a commitment to faith throughout the ages, faith being passed down from generation to generation. I can't help but be in love with church buildings for what they teach us about faith and how they are blessings for those who trust the Lord. They are beautiful stopping places on our way to the heavenly courts of the Lord. God bless your week.
Pastor Jim Thacker
Access to our Facilities
Our facilities are user-friendly for those who lack some ambulatory capabilities. With our new high-tech lift and our ADA compliant restroom facilities, we welcome all who can come and worship.