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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Fascination With Old Churches

This isn't the first time I have posted photos of old churches. I have a love of old churches that I can't really explain. There is a beauty to them that doesn't seem to exist in modern churches. It seems as though modern churches are either tin boxes, or rented space in a run down mall, for congregations that can't afford to build a church but still want to worship together no matter where it has to be. One thing you know with those churches though, you would feel welcome if you walked  in off  the street.
 Or on the other end of the spectrum, there are the over done, over ornate, monuments, not to God, but to the money that the parishioners have. You look at those churches, and feel like you don't belong just passing by in your car. Right or wrong, you feel like if you walked in to one of those churches, you would have all eyes on you. Not friendly eyes, but judgmental eyes that give you the once over and turn in disgust. You know you don't belong, and probably never will.
Old churches though, have an open friendliness about them.  You can just see Reverend Alden, from Little House on the Prairie coming out the front door with his hand extended reaching for yours. You can imagine a congregation joyfully singing hymns as an organist happily plays away. You can imagine the weddings and baptisms. You can see the children in their Sunday best running around as mothers set out blankets on the yard and food on the potluck table. While the men plan a friendly game of baseball after  lunch is over. The people are friends, neighbors, and a community. Something that you want to be a part of, something you want to join.
 I realize that there are friendly big churches and stuffy, unwelcoming, tin box churches. Just because a church building looks inviting, doesn't mean you will be extended the hand of friendship. But even still, old churches just look like they were built with the love that the congregation had for their God, and their faith. You can imagine the jars of pennies and dimes that were collected and carefully saved so the church could be built. You know that every detail was carefully and lovingly added by a carpenter that worshiped there. That every stone was laid by a local stone mason that later prayed in one of the pews.
 Maybe that's why I love them so much. The old churches were built with the labor and commitment of a group of people that wanted to spend time with each other. That wanted to sing loudly if not off key. That wanted to teach their children a tradition as well as a religion. That were willing to work hard to create a space that they could call their church.

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