From Hear To Hear
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Second Corinthians 3:18
We move through life. It is a journey. Along the way, we pass people, scenes, experiences, moments. These all become our memories. If we undertake our journey by always looking back to these memories we run the risk of bumping into our present – which can hurt. Life’s journey happens most sweetly when we keep moving forward. We leave the past behind as we walk into our future. While this can be challenging for any individual, it can be particularly difficult for a group of people such as a family, or church to journey together.
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”
It can be difficult for a family to move house. Often they are leaving behind fond memories and a place where they have felt secure and comfortable, not to mention great neighbours. As difficult as this is (and our family has done it seven times) imagine moving home to another country! (We have several families in our church who have made this difficult transition.) Not only do they have to contend with a new house in a new location, they have all of the challenges of being without extended family networks, or even the benefit of long-term friendship connections. Churches also have to journey which similarly involves leaving some things behind – pastors, worship styles, and even buildings.
Our church is about to undertake the next step in our journey. It involves saying ‘goodbye’ to our old sanctuary as we leave it for our new one. Kim and I helped to build our existing auditorium (which we opened on August 31st 1996). Twenty-one years later, we are now less than four weeks away from the Grand Opening of our new auditorium.
For me, this means leaving behind the place where I have baptised several hundred people, married many couples, dedicated many babies to the Lord, preached several thousand sermons, counselled hundreds of people, and seen many more people finding saving hope in Christ. I’m sure that there will be many others who could also share fond memories associated with our old auditorium. Even though our new building has been constructed quickly, the move from our old auditorium into our new one has been a careful, considered, and collaborative one. Every step of our journey – from the need, through each stage of the development, has been transparent, explained and exciting. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Geoff Hill for the brilliant oversight of this project. He has sacrifices his time, sleep, and energy to make this happen. Along with Geoff, several other tradesmen have given of their time and skills to help us on our journey.
One of the things we have said regularly through this building project is that it has never been about the building. One of the things that we have improved over the last couple of years is our ability to hear. We hear the heart-ache of people. We hear the struggles of those in relationship breakdowns are experiencing. We hear the confusion of young people. We hear the tears of the elderly. We hear the cries of the lonely. Everyone wants to be heard. It validates them. It tells them we care. It helps them to know that we aren’t here to merely preach at them – we are genuinely interested in them and how we can help them. This has led to our church building a reputation as a safe church – a church that cares.
¶ I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
As we transition into our new auditorium, we will be gathering in a building made from ‘rubbish’ wood which has been selected, shaped, and glued together (“LVL” – laminated veneer lumber). This is a picture of our church which is made up of broken people who have been selected by God, shaped by God, and joined together in Christ. It is a building which is nearly three times the size of our old auditorium. This too is indicative of what God has done in and among us over the past few years. It will be a building with a lot of glass. This should remind us that we are transparent and invite people to look in all the while remembering that we are called to reach out to those outside.
¶ And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
But most importantly as we transition from the old to the new, let us continue to hear. May we hear one another. May we hear the broken, hurting, lonely, and confused – and may we especially hear God, who always hears us. I will always be reminded of this because of what my American friend Pastor Dan Miller requested. He apologised for not being able to attend our Grand Opening. On Facebook he wrote on my wall asking for a favour. He requested that I write “Ephesians 3:20-21” underneath the place where the Word will be preached each Sunday in our new building. Today, I honoured his request.
¶ Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.