Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
I remember in grade school one day learning about the planets and the solar system, and being told that one day, people would live on Mars. And even today, every now and then, you hear such stories that one day, we could live there.
Now think about Mars for a moment, there is literally nothing there. If people were to live on Mars you would literally have to build everything that you would need. All the things that you and I now take for granted would have to be transported to Mars; because the other thing that I remember hearing about Mars is that it takes a LONG time to get there from earth.
So what would you build first? Housing for all the new residents would be a good place to start. Then you need a school for the children; and a hospital for when people get sick or hurt. You are also going to need some stores where people can get the things that they need; and maybe an airport for people who want to go back to earth. After that, banks, post offices, and everything else would fall into place.
And you now have a society where people can live a somewhat normal life.
But did you notice what is not on that list of places you would need to build? A church.
Today, churches are largely left to their own devices on when, where and how to build. There is much talk in our local gathering of pastors and even at the District and Synod level about where and when to build churches. But city planners and governments and others are not really thinking about where to build churches. I wonder if even the most optimistic, wide eyed scientist who is looking for recruits to go to Mars and start building cities has even considered the possibility that there would be a need for churches.
I draw this idea about living on Mars out, because it was not too long ago that this very area that we now live in was about as attractive to live in as Mars seems to us today. Imagine those early pioneers leaving the cities and the developed areas of the country to the east and coming out here long before K-18 and I-70 were available to make the commute a smooth one.
And when they arrived what did they see, but miles upon miles of open spaces, with no Walmart, no gas stations, no banks or post offices or hospitals and no place to live. And yet they unpacked their wagons, and called this place their new home.
And what was the first thing those early pioneers built? A church. The church was to be the center of town, but more importantly the church was to be the center of their lives; so much so that they built the church before they built anything else.
And you see this in cities all across the country: in the middle of the city, in the middle of business districts, on prime real estate that could possibly bring hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, there is a church building. Why? Because for the first people who called this area home, they built the church first; and then they built everything else around it. That was how they lived their lives; everything was literally centered around the church.
125 years later, some have pushed the church to the side; others walk by it every day and never give it a second thought; but for those who decided many years ago that this was a good place to call home, they put the church there so that they could be reminded of it and the importance of what went on inside its doors, and how that would impact their daily lives every day of their lives.
Our view of the church may have changed, but the reality and power of the church never has. Even if one day we need to collect the funds and build one on Mars.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt