Churches are pretty stable entities, so being able to lead a service in a brand new, or even renovated sanctuary, is something all pastors will not be able to experience. This morning, I was privileged to lead the second “1st service” of my pastoral career.
The first one was in Lucknow following the major renovation, and repair, that came as a result of a fire in the sanctuary. Many things were put back in the same way that they were before the fire, but changes were made that enhanced the feel of the place, changed the layout a little, and upgraded the entire audio visual system. That first service was exciting as we came home from temporary facilities in the Presbyterian Church and celebrated with the community in our own place again.
This morning was more than a little different. We were moving into a brand new worship space, one that had been planned and debated for more than a decade. This was not just a new coat of paint, but an entire building project aimed at providing more space for teaching and children and an improved fellowship hall. The new sanctuary though, is the crowning glory of the project. Bright and airy, with padded chairs rather than benches, an improved audio visual system and wonderful acoustics, this place will serve as a beautiful place of worship for many years.
We began our service this morning in the old sanctuary, heard God’s greeting there for the last time, spent some time in thoughtful reflection, before moving in procession to the new space, carrying the old pulpit bible, the baptismal bowl and pitcher, and the communion chalice and wine jug, bibles and hymnals.
Once settled in our new place, we spent another moment in reflection, before being greeted by God again, for the first time in this space, and then, sharing the Lord’s Supper together, recognizing that we find our identity in Christ, not in a building.
It was wonderful, again, to be part of something new, to in some small way, lead a congregation in celebrating God’s goodness, God’s provision, and God’s care.