While in seminary, I remember finishing class and walking across the campus to the library. After walking through the large front doors, I would take a quick left, navigating a narrow hallway to the stairs, which took me to the second floor. On the second floor, there were stacks and stacks of books, but on each side of this broad section of shelves was a wide hallway with a single, round table. It was a quiet oasis for studying, and there was plenty of space to spread out.
After class, I would walk to the library and spread out on one of those tables to study. I would eventually walk to that table everyday without even thinking about it. It became my place; but there were one or two days when I arrived, and somebody else was already sitting there. When I saw someone else sitting at that table, I realized it had become my place.
Places are important, and they become a meaningful part of our lives, particularly the sanctuary. If we sat down in the sanctuary all alone on a quiet afternoon, looking around at the stained-glass windows and the hymnals in the pews, memories would start to come back. Those memories would tell a significant story about our lives and our faith. It tells a story about us because it is our place.
Together, we tend to our place—”what kind of place this is, what kind of people we are,” as Thomas Frank writes. Through what we say and do in worship, we tend to “what kind of place this is” and to “what kind of people we are.” We are “Building Sanctuary.”
Looking around the sanctuary there are memories that come back to us, recalling what has happened in that room, but we must remember that so much of what happens in the sanctuary is never seen. It happens quietly as the Spirit of God whispers compassion and grace, stirs the embers of hope and calling, and enlivens our souls. It is why this kind of place is tied to the kind of people we are.
We tend to this place through what we say and do in worship, which includes the practice of generosity and commitment. It is simply part of the kind of place this is and the kind of people we are. We are grateful for each other and all of the ways we tend to this place, including the financial gifts we make to the church. At the outset of our capital campaign, “Building Sanctuary,” as always, we are thankful for those gifts.
For this campaign, we consider making monthly gifts for the next year over and above our regular giving, or estimating our overall contribution to this campaign and then making those gifts at other intervals than monthly. It is yet another opportunity to practice stewardship with one another, as we tend to our place and what happens here. The capital campaign will help us repair the ceiling of the sanctuary as well as to ensure our long-term financial health for years to come.