Have you noticed lately the great treasure God has given us in our sanctuary at Grace? Every place of worship says something about the God we worship. What message does our sanctuary convey to you about the Lord?
When Rev. W.C. Rehwaldt and our congregation constructed this space 90 years ago, they meticulously set apart our sanctuary with details most of you have caught over the years. Woodwork, glasswork, stonework, everything grand and sturdy, announcing to our people and our world, Jesus Christ is Lord! The exact theological reasons for each detail in wood, window, and furthered workmanship are given to us as well, written down and handed down to us over time. As part of our 100th anniversary we plan to share what we know about each door, carving, image, and more. For example, did you know the lower windows, when grouped in two groups of five, can be used as acronyms to spell GRACE and FAITH?
With all our repairs needed in our sanctuary we are well on our way to spending $435,902 to restore this beautiful space, but we still need considerable help to pay for this project. Our founders sold donuts during the Great Depression to pay off the original debt to craft this magnificent building, handing it down as a great heritage to us. Please continue to help us with your dollars, energy, and prayers to continue to be good caretakers of this place. Thank you for your generous support!
Where would we be instead if we treated each other like fair-weather fans, only giving or attending when it seems convenient or only in our interests? Who would keep the lights on or the walls from crumbling? Who would encourage those who need encouragement? Who would pray and sing and commune? We could not do anything without the Lord helping us and He is using you to help! You all are a great treasure!
But have you noticed lately God is the greatest treasure given at Grace? Christ offers himself to you weekly and daily here, to fill you up so your faith is more than a facelift. Christ Jesus warned about letting ourselves become white-washed tombs, looking good on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones on the inside (Matthew 23:27). Is life really as awesome as we make it out to be on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest? Not really, but we make it look that way all too often. It is too easy to just look good in our personal and professional lives and on the inside have nothing good going on in our hearts. It’s all too easy to live that way as a church as well.
Think of all the great cathedrals and other sanctuaries in Europe. Magnificent! Beautiful! But many were built as the Roman Catholic Church sold indulgences to pay for their projects. And doing so, they became facelifts filled with lies! St. Peter’s Basilica is famously noted for this. In fact, on a recent tour there a guide told one of my family members about a delay in the construction project due to a little thing called the Lutheran Reformation. Martin Luther and those with him who stood against the sale of indulgences actually managed to halt the sale of indulgences enough that the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica, which started in 1506 was not completed until 1626. That’s 120 years! But did you know works-righteousness is still taught in the Roman Catholic Church and selling and buying indulgences is still accepted practice? At the end of the aforementioned tour my family members enjoyed they were told if they went through a certain door in the sanctuary they could earn more years off from purgatory… Beautiful as it may be, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was built on the lies of men who were whitewashed tombs. To put it mildly, Satan’s message of salvation by works is the wrong message to proclaim in any church or with any building campaign.
Instead, may you who are free in Christ by grace alone through faith alone, freely gather to worship Jesus, our priceless treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7). His word and means of grace are the greatest treasures God gives us (Matthew 13:44-46). May they fill this place! And may you, as St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:7, give without compulsion towards our ministry, mission, and other many needs (including keeping our lights on and building strong). May the hard work and sacrifices of our many members, both present and past, serve to set apart this place as a launchpad for the gospel of Jesus Christ. May the cross and empty tomb of Christ be boldly proclaimed and shared with every voice and vestibule, woodwork and window. May Grace serve a place where our God continues to create in us new hearts that believe in Jesus alone for salvation (Psalm 51). May God make our restoration project more than a facelift.
><> Pastor Asbury