To anyone walking by our church in the past few months it was obvious that there is construction going on. A plywood barrier was put up, a dumpster was parked on the curb and stacks of bricks appeared on the property. This has been preceded by even more months, even years, of planning, discussing, redesign, and funding. It isn’t the first time that Trinity has been occupied with building. In 1907 a fire destroyed the church located in the Lutheran Cemetery and a new stone church was rebuilt on the same site. Fire struck again in 1977 and completely destroyed the church in the Lutheran Cemetery. This time the new church was built on Dry Harbor Road and it is here that we worship today. Now, once again, we are building, not due to the catastrophe of fire, but the steady wear and tear of time passing. Once again, bricks are being hauled, lifted, and cemented together to preserve the building we call Trinity Lutheran Church. We need to take care of the brick and mortar of our institution since this is where we worship and have fellowship. Also, buildings of worship have a very long tradition. The Old Testament tells us that King Solomon built the first Jewish temple about three thousand years ago. No expense or amount of labor was spared. Logs of cedar were floated down the sea from Lebanon and thousands of men were conscripted into forced labor. (See 1 Kings 5-7).
When asked for a sign, Christ refers to his own body as a temple. “Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it in three days.” (John2:19-20) The people did not understand. They were thinking of a temple built of stone. It was not until after the resurrection that the disciples knew what was meant. Later the apostles use the metaphor of a temple building to describe the church, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:20-21)
In 1 Peter, the evangelist becomes more personal. “Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be builtinto a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. “(1 Peter 2:4-6)
What does it mean to be a living stone or, in other words, a human brick? If bricks are just lying about, there is no structure. If bricks are stacked, but there is no mortar holding them together, the wall will not hold. But we, as living stones that have come to Christ, are being “built into a spiritual house”. God is the architect that provides the plan. His love is the mortar that holds us together. We are being built into a house where spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God are offered up.
If you look at Trinity church from the outside you see a solid, sturdy structure made with many good red bricks. But it is inside on a Sunday morning where the real strength of the church is evident. Everyone has something to contribute. Some assist at the altar, some collect the offerings, others come early to make coffee. All of us worship, pray and sing hymns. During the week the sick are visited, the poor are fed, and other individual ministries are carried out. There are many tasks that hold our church together. In all our collective activities, because we do them to honor God, we are the bricks of the spiritual house. We stick together and don’t fall apart. These bricks of God’s spiritual house are much stronger and more beautiful than the building made by human hands will ever be.