Like you I have stumbled into a temporary place of refuge at the right moment. You know, when the heavens opened and it rained like the first day it rained on Noah’s head and he likely said, “What the?” And then scrambled inside the ark he built. What a wonderful story of refuge in the storm. I recall when years ago hurricane Irene rumbled through here and the wind battered our trees and windows and lashed us pretty badly. I was glad I was in the house and not outside.
There are volumes and volumes of books written on the church and what it is. Truth is, there are several kinds of churches in the New Testament, all different and interesting in their own right. I do not believe there is one way of being the Church (though there are some core ingredients common to all churches, like baptism and communion). I would say this–a church is a refuge or at least, it ought to be. And we try at Riverside to be that kind of place. Amazingly enough, in a one hour service that includes a praise/song/hymn time, prayers and a sermon, we –or at least most of us– leave energized and renewed. Sometimes, it suffices just to get out of the storm for a while. Turn off the talking heads. Put down the spin masters in the newspaper or on the tablet. And practice peace, contemplation and rest in God. Here’s something from St. Augustine’s Confessions in Book VI:
…I sighed, and You heard me; I wavered, and you guided me; I wandered through the broad way of the world, and You did not forsake me.
Read it again, slowly. That is a confession of refuge. I hope you might stumble into our sanctuary this Sunday and pray those words uttered by Augustine in the Fourth Century. They have echoed through the corridors of time and arrived here in this moment. Use them. Come out of the rain and storm. Peace. The Peace of Christ. The Peace of Christ abide in you. ~ See you Sunday.