The People of God in the Bible sought different ways to confirm the essential Presence of God in their midst as they worshipped, traveled, and served. One gentle tension in the Hebrew Bible was the people’s need for a tangible sense of God’s Presence, reflected in a mysterious chest called the “Ark of the Covenant,” which contained sacred items that assured the Hebrews that God was “with them” as they moved from Exodus to Promised Land, to conquering their enemies. The Ark was often sheltered by the Tent, a moving Tabernacle that accompanied the Servant People throughout their journey. They spoke of God “tabernacling among them” (dwelling in their midst) as evidence of God’s blessing.
The same People also longed for a temple, a physical structure that would combine a place of worship with a tangible building that would celebrate the majesty of God and remind them that God “dwelt” in their midst. They built three temples over the centuries, and special religious days “called” the faithful follower to “ascend” to the temple as an act of worship. The finest building materials and furnishings were to remind the people that God’s Presence was a rich experience for worship.
In each century, the followers of God have struggled with the challenging tension between building ornate temples to celebrate the majesty of God, and simple tokens of care which the people “carry” into service as they minister “on a journey.” We inherit some of that tradition at River Road Church, for our first members wanted to build a building that would honor God and exalt the worship of God. The same followers of Christ also wanted to be on mission for God, serving God’s children outside the walls of the sanctuary.
Today we inherit the vision and effort of those disciples, having worshipped in a building where architecture, sacred words, and music consecrate an atmosphere of deep reverence. We also have been called by God to serve God’s children as Christ did—from Temple to marketplace. May the stewardship of time, ministry, and money we now share in this Campaign be in keeping with God’s will and purpose, and may our efforts shape a gift for God and all who follow the Christ who has called us to share.