Summer in Florida means afternoon thunderstorms.
Yesterday we were hit with a powerful thunderstorm that came out of nowhere. There was wind, torrential rain, hail, lightning and then . . . darkness.
The power to our church building was knocked out for over an hour.
50 years ago, a power outage would not have hindered church work too much, but today–in our computer dependent state–a power outage brings almost all work to a grinding halt.
I couldn’t prepare my sermon PowerPoint slides. I couldn’t continue my online research of how many times a typical heart beats in a lifetime. I couldn’t email my worship leader for the Well to verify some changes to the service. Yes–I know, I know–I could have had devotions, prayed, fasted, read a book, done a short-term service project for our Missions guy, and I know that I could have written the rest of my sermon by hand, but then I just would have had to type it in anyway and that’s a pain, so I chose to hang out.
Unlike some of my cubicle dwelling, or inner hallway neighbors, I have two windows in my office, so I wasn’t completely in the dark and people started gathering in my office.
It was actually kind of fun.
We talked about the weather. We talked about last Sunday, next Sunday, the weather last Sunday, and whether, or not, the power was ever going to come back on
It was actually really nice.
I enjoyed chatting with my co-workers.
We heard about a Bible quiz in an office on the other side of the building, so we took a road trip through the dark hallways of the back-side of the third floor and joined another group of coworkers gathered in another window-lit office.
As we sat there for the next 30, or so, minutes . . . laughing, talking, surrounded by darkness, but enjoying the light, I began to think about the Church.
I think what we experienced in that naturally lit office during the power-outage yesterday is a metaphor for the role the Church should play in a spiritually dark world.
Now, you may think this is silly, but humor me. 🙂
The Church should be a gathering place for those uncomfortable with, or longing to leave, the darkness, but for this to happen a few things must be true.
1. The Door Must Remain Open–If my door–or my friend Keith’s door–had been closed we would have missed a wonderful opportunity for fellowship. Are the doors of our churches open–truly open–to those who are trapped in darkness, or are they only welcomed on our terms and on our schedule?
2. The Room Must Be Accessible–People came to my office and I went to Keith’s office, not just because they were open, but also because they were close. If the naturally-lit room had been too far away, then some of my co-workers who joined the party in Keith’s office might have just stayed where they were. Are we taking the Church to where it is darkest or moving it to a “better”, or better lit, part of town?
3. The Room Must Be Lit–I know this is obvious, but I wouldn’t have gone to Keith’s office if it was dark. What’s the point? Everyone might as well just stay where they are. If I’m going to find darkness everywhere then I might as well just stay where I’m comfortable.
My office and Keith’s office were appealing because they offered what most of the offices did not: light.
We are supposed to be the light of the world, so–when the Church gathers together–there should be lots of light, but that’s not always the case. A worldly church is a dark church and not very appealing to people already in a comfortable darkness. Our churches must be beacons of hope, purity, truth, love, peace, and light in a dark world.
The power came back on at 3:12 p.m. and everyone went back to work, but I can’t stop thinking about how blessed I was to be with those people in that naturally lit office for an hour yesterday. It was a good thing . . . and a reminder of the impact a well-lit church can have in a dark world.