If Churches Were Parks

I read this last week and found it thought provoking:

If we tore down our church buildings and replaced them with parks, would the buildings be missed? If churches were parks, there would be trees and grass and places for pleasant walks, neighborhood families enjoying the changing seasons, and our "old ones" sitting on benches telling chlidren stories of their lives and faith.
In the fall, as the leaves changed from green to yellow, orange and red, we could invite our friends and neighbors to corn roasts and BBQs; creation - in the park. We could leave the children something wonderful in a world gone mad.
In the winter we could roll in the snow with the neighborhood children, throw snowballs, create snow sculptures, and get to know each other again as we walked under trees heavy with hoar frost. At Christmas we could string colored lights, decorate a Christmas tree, savor the story of the nativity, and sing carols under quiet stars.
If churches were parks, we would have to forsake our games of power and our dreams of empire for pleasant walks, snow frost, corn roasts, Christmas trees, carol sings, Easter pageants, and heart-to-heart talks with those who need to know why we still believe in our God. If our churches were parks, all people could gather there; they could come whenever they wished, for there would be no locked doors or security windows on our parks - no stained-glass windows to hide behind. Members of the church eating lunch in the park could strike up a conversation with a business person, university student, or shopper resting before heading home, or admire the muticolors of a group of teenagers and ask them if they are agraid of the world we have created for them, or angry because of the futures we may have taken away from them.
Of course we would find pain in our parks: lonely people, unhappy children, sullen youth. We might confront those trying to buy drugs in our parks. We might fear those who would hurt us and steal from us. If our churches were parks, we would have to confront the world outside our buildings. We would have to be those who make peace and speak of redemption and hope rather than those who hide behind fortress walls and wish the world away.
When God started the world, he put his man and woman in a park. He chose to walk and talk with his creation in a park. When we were cast out of the park, we began to build towers, empires, cities, and temples. We had to acquire and possess - not only the present but the past and the future. We found ways to control our world and other persons. It's hard to do this in a park.

Obviously the "park" image cannot be pressed too far, but it does suggest that there are certain qualities that should be nurtured in our congregations - especially when children are present. How much of the park do children find in our churches?

Taken from Children Matter, p. 149. Written by Linda Cannell

Now, don't get me wrong, I love me some contemplation and a beautiful stained glass window. But, this for sure got me thinking about and appreciating the community we share as Mosaic. A couple of weeks ago at Broadway Park we gathered for a picnic, some play time, and some time to tell our stories, and it was so wonderful to share that with all of you and just enjoy our church community at the park. But, how might we bring some of the "park" with us as we gather indoors?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We walked to church that day, meandered really. Waved at our neighbors on the way. We were among the first to arrive and picked the spot for all of us to gather and rest among friends. We were still new to Mosaic that day, but we were welcome. Our children had fun for hours. They felt safe and secure. And we felt God in our midst.