The gospel tells us that the Church is the people. “You are the body of Christ”.
Every church building is for the people, the People of God.
Having church buildings is an inevitable consequence of the gospel.
In Jesus God entered into human life, taking flesh.
And so our relationship with God is not just in the head – it is of the flesh. Too many people think knowing God is about trying to meet him in our head. That is not what the incarnation is about – we meet him in flesh and blood, and in all kinds of physical ways.
The church has a life of its own: services, organisations, events, buildings, music, and so on. In the life of the Church, the people of God, we see something of the face of God. God is to be met and seen and touched and heard in all of it. And so in every church building that is prayed in we see something of God. And it’s then that our heart is touched and we begin to encounter God inside ourselves.
We are holding this celebration today to say a big thank-you everyone who has helped us renew our church building. When we launched our appeal, the response amazed us. We were surprised to discover how many friends we had. Running an appeal helped us renew old friendships and to discover new ones.
The results of all that generosity is this renewed church building. We didn’t do it for ourselves – what you see in this church is not first of all for CR. CR is here for the people. We are here to support the Church, which is the People of God. Since the refurbishment of this church more and more people have been coming here – we are beginning to feel over-run! The numbers of people coming here are rocketing. So in thanking everybody who contributed to our appeal, I think we can say that it was money well spent.
At the heart of this church is one thing: worship – worship lived by a community. Many come here and find in this building prayer and a sense of the presence of God.
So “Thank you”, thank God. Thanking God is at the heart of Christian worship. Our task here, is to help people to have plenty to be thankful for. Today people are looking for meaning: people are looking for peace; people are looking for community.
All of those things, meaning, peace and community, are waiting for us in the temple built of living stones, which is the people of God, the Church. This is most true when the Church is praying together, as we are doing now.
We pray that God will bless you all,and as we go into the future we pray him to guide us so that we may roll our sleeves up for all that is to be done in a world crying out for the things of God.