Bulldozing a church on Good Friday

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By Stefanie Kreamer

If you've spent any time around our family, I'm sure you've heard Jonathan and I talk about the meaningful seven years we spent in Washington D.C. and the church plant we were blessed to be a part of from Day 1. In fact, you've probably heard about it more than you wanted!

Well, it turns out that their building, this very Good Friday, is being bulldozed to build condos. The congregation has a new home, but it is still sad for them... and us. There aren't many real church buildings left in D.C. and this was one of them. It was placed in the middle of a diverse and intense neighborhood and was home to the 1968 race riots. Neighbors signed a petition asking the city to spare it but to no avail.

It was a known safe space in the neighborhood, and even its mostly secular neighbors appreciated its historic beauty and how it broke up the rows of houses (and improved parking problems!)

I just can't get over the cosmic timing of bulldozing a church on Good Friday. It's simultaneously the best and worst day for this to happen. Our previous temple is literally being torn into thousands of little pieces on the day we remember Jesus' body and soul being torn apart. I often think of Good Friday as a quiet, somber day. And that's true, because our account of Jesus is of an obedient, powerfully meek, and relatively quiet Son that day. But, just as a wrecking ball is going to slam through this church's walls, the battle between heaven and hell that day must have filled the cosmos louder than any jackhammer. 

It is gut wrenching to think about — all the windows breaking, the pews crumbling that held homeless men and White House officials, the rooms caving in that held babies, and hallways filling with rubble that were previously filled with sticky-fingered toddlers and too-cool-for-school preteens. The rickety pulpit that proclaimed truth and the slightly off-center table that fed us truth is splintering into pieces. Oh how violent crucifixion (and demolition) really is!

It strikes me that it might be the most personally vivid picture of Jesus' death that I've experienced. This will be the first Easter in over 100 years that this building won't be filled with Hosannas and Hallelujahs and it would be impossible to rebuild it in three days. (We literally couldn't even fix the front steps after a whole weekend of work a few years ago.)

But in spite of all that, I find myself newly grateful that Jesus expands our temple outside the walls of our buildings and frees us to worship everywhere, while simultaneously shrinking our temple to be purely and simply Himself. 

His indestructible self. 

There's a great article in the Washington Post about the church building, its impact in the neighborhood, and the tragedy of demolishing churches in favor of condos from our friend and pastor of Grace Meridian Hill. You can read it here

A friend also took a few last, appropriately dark and grainy, photos before the building is closed to the public tomorrow.

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I can't help but pray that Jesus will stubbornly haunt that plot of land and fill it with mysterious Holy-Spirit-ness for all its future occupants!

With hope in our final, unbreakable, temple and home,

Stefanie