Church is made of people, not stones, stained glass

The life of Jesus inspired change. Often in buildings like synagogues or the temple, he taught about change, but more often – away from these buildings – Jesus taught where people had needs: the marketplace, the well, in homes.

Change is the reality of everyone’s life. Look in the mirror and realize how much time has changed you. Nothing living remains the same. And so it is with Jesus’ church.

This church is made of the people of God or “living stones,” as scripture calls us. As a living, changing body, this church cannot be relegated to a specific “stone” building, no matter how majestic that building may be.

As neighborhoods change and people move on, dwindling congregations can no longer support some church structures. What 1,500 families once supported cannot continue when only a few hundred or a few dozen individuals remain. Some individuals today believe that memories can only be kept in large, empty churches. Memories, if they are true, are kept in the heart where they are treasured for life – but never in stone structures, stained glass and statuary.

Pope Francis invites us to look at all things through the eyes of Christ. Jesus would never want his church to be the custodian of empty monuments devoted to memories. Children today need to be educated, the homeless housed, the hungry fed, the naked clothed and the troubled counseled.

If money were to be spent, Christ would point us in those directions – not in spending millions of dollars to save empty churches as memory museums. Placing a building on a register of historic places will not return congregations that have long ago dispersed.

Now is the time for small congregations to come together to create new life and new memories in new places.

Rev. Msgr. Robert K. Golombek