Worshiping Where God Is

Some people say that as the Church moves into the future, we will stop expecting to make God “happen” within our walls.  Instead, we will move out into the world, to find out where God is already working and join the effort out there.

I recently saw a great movie, a true story about some people who found God’s presence in the unlikely setting of a battlefield during World War I, and for a few days, made peace and worshipped in the midst of war.  It’s called “Joyeux Noel” (Merry Christmas, 2005), was made in France and comes from Netflix with English subtitles if you want to see it. 

This past week-end, my daughter and I found ourselves stuck overnight in what had once been a Catholic church, now abandoned, during a 2 day snowstorm.  We were joined by two other parents and six kids, all members of a theatre troupe that has taken over the building.  We curled up with sleeping bags, oranges and DVD’s and waited out the storm.  On Sunday morning when we woke up, one of the moms turned to me and said, “Let’s have worship”.  And we did. 

When I imagine the Church of the future, I see it being full of people who have the vision to see God’s activity around them and to make church happen wherever they find themselves. 

What do you imagine?

6 responses to “Worshiping Where God Is

  1. Martin Toepke-Floyd

    I think church buildings should be unlocked just so they can be a refuge and shelter in time of need. Members and visitors also come in the middle of week and pray. I know church insurance companies want buildings to be locked when no staff are present to prevent vandalism and arson, but part of the reason the church exists is to minister to strangers in need. There is a great scene in the Disney movie, “The Hunchback of Notredame,” where the gypsy Esmerelda takes sanctuary in the cathedral and sings a poignant song about the God of the outcast.
    I hope there was some heat and water while you were there overnight. Imagine a woman leading worship in that formerly very conservative space, too!

  2. The church closed due to the fact that many parishioners had either moved out of the country and have joined other parishes, or like many other people of different denominations, choose to not go, nor go because “they’re always asking for money” It bothers me when people say that about church like the church leaders go out on a nice little vacation with your money. The money that is brought in during the service is used to pay for the electric, heat, programs, property tax, income for the clergy and everything else that costs money, things are not free. I believe that churches should be left open as well, and infact my little church, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, along with the two sister parishes, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Oconto Falls, and Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Oconto are left open as well. St. Patricks has only had one incident with someone taking money from the Catholic CD station, and only made away with about 22 dollars. But ya know what, if they need that money that bad, let ’em have it. The Lord will always take care of his own. Gail if you ever just want to talk religion, I love the study of it and have knowledge in many different denominations and also other faiths.

  3. Thanks for your comment, Josh. You are lucky to have St. Pat’s in Stiles, and a great new priest. In my limited conversation with Catholics about church closure, I’m hearing that a big issue for your churches is a shortage of priests. I don’t know if there is research out there on what effect the bad press about clergy misconduct has had on church attendance. But I think the reasons you mentioned are probably the biggest factor in the closure of a church like the one in Abrams: migration away from small communities (and inner cities), and the culture’s lack of interest in attending traditional institutional churches.
    I did an interview last fall with Art Rouse, a Catholic lay leader up in Lena, for the Times Herald. He said, “It’s not just Catholics. Other denominations have the same problem. Attendance is down. People don’t feel it’s important. They all want to be members of a church in times of need. But as long as there’s no need, they say, ‘Why should we bother with anything?’”
    At the same time, some people, including a lot of younger people like yourself, don’t feel spiritually fed by the traditional church. We need to be thinking of new ways to reach people who don’t “get” the older traditions with the always new Good News. I hope we can talk more!

  4. Yes, it does play a large factor in the closure of Catholic Churches due to the fact of Catholic Priests. I think many men would become priest if it weren’t for the whole celebicy. Bill Koehne actually was going to school to become a priest, but he ended up running into Joan many different times and instead married and had children. The reason the Catholic Church has priest live such a life, is because they believe that if they were to be married and have children they wouldn’t be there to be as great of shepherds for the church, with having marital issues and running children around to this that and 400 other things. I believe we are in an age where they need to look into that. The reason that Catholic’s don’t allow women to become priests is because they are stuck on the teaching in the Bible about men being the head of the household etc.
    Attendance wise, St. Patricks, Holy Trinity & also St. Anthony’s are doing pretty well. As for the church in Sobieski ( St. Maximillian Kolbe, former St. John Cantius before the merge of St. Louis( the theater) and St. Joesph’s in Chase) The attendance is poor there, I went there last weekend and honestly there was maybe 20 people there. I felt like crying honestly. How can people not realize that without attendance and without funds the church will not be there when youll need it. Even now, seeing children or hearing from people about children going unbaptized now, and not growing up with any faith at all, I find it sad.

  5. I can’t say much about the shortage of priests–the issues are different in the Protestant church. (A church leader told me recently that we have 4.5 clergy looking for work for every one position available).
    There are lots of reasons for low attendance in worship. Cultural indifference to practicing a faith is one issue. More choices in society is another. Often, people with children will leave a tiny church in favor of a larger church with other young families, and who could blame them? There is also migration that occurs from rural to urban areas. Once a church has lost “critical mass” it no longer has the energy to sustain itself and that energy is very difficult to reclaim. But that doesn’t mean the church has lost all its ability to carry out its mission. It may mean they have to carry it out in a new way.
    I don’t believe the answer to this dilemma is convincing people to come back to their old churches, but to focus on Christ-like living, wherever we find ourselves, so that people will see the Church alive in us. The Apostle Paul called Christians “living stones” who build the church. For those whose hearts are not open to the message, Jesus said, “dust off your feet and move on” (Luke 9: 3-5). But those whose hearts are open will “let themselves be built into a spiritual house” (I Peter 2:5).
    Josh, you are a living stone. You love to talk about your faith and you have found opportunities to share it with young people around you. I’m thankful for the churches that have shaped and sustained you. Your generation will be shaping those churches in new ways.

  6. Thank you Gail, it means alot. I love talking about, but on the other side I’m quite different too. I can be quite opposite and many people don’t see me as I am when I am talking religion. It’s something I struggle with, but my faith is strong because of everything I’ve dealt with in my life. I watched some videos yesterday and they actually shook my faith because it was an athiest calling around to random churches asking them things in the Bible that even the priests and pastors couldn’t answer and it frightened me because his point was show that we are believing in this book that has things in it we don’t even know about. But after pondering on it all day yesterday I came to a conclusion that even if I don’t know everything in the Bible, does not make it untrue. It’s proof enough for me. and you know what if I were to die and find out there was no God, I’d be ok with it because you know what atleast I followed a story of a wonderful man who lived on the earth and gave moral. Sometimes I wish I was dead to see God, not suicidal or anything, but just to experiance the afterlife. Now I’m just becoming random with this talk lol.

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