Last week I received this email message:
Since Dad rarely commented on Facebook I anxiously clicked on the link to see what prompted him to speak. It was this photo:
Dathan is a cement mason and he poured the front steps of this church. He did a great job, so he posted it on Facebook saying, “Steps and walk I did for local church. Have to be good to work on the Lord’s house!”
Dad commented, “when you come from GOOD stock it will always SHOW up in the GENE’S love you gpa.” (January7, 2012)
Oh man, I miss my dad, and I have a lot of memories of him on church steps. Back in the day, many of the men in church would go outside onto the church steps between Sunday School and Worship services to have a smoke. Oh yes — and they didn’t stand fifteen feet away from the door either. My dad was one of them.
I have memories of him standing on church steps as a pall bearer for his relatives. And I have memories of him dropping us kids off at the church steps and telling us exactly where he would pick us up after Sunday School.
The sweetest memory of my dad on church steps is when he walked me up the steps, through the door and down the aisle to marry Brian. A few short years later he walked up the steps to attend the dedication services of my babies.
Dad’s gait was a bit slower, and he paused on each step when he ascended the church steps for the weddings of his grandchildren and the dedication services of his great-grandchildren. I will miss him this spring when our youngest grandson is dedicated to the Lord.
Church steps… No more than a concrete job, no less than sacred ground.
The steps of the church support the brides and grooms who joyously promise their future together.
They absorb the tears of mourners when loved ones have stepped into eternity.
They bear the weight of the lonely soul who ascends and descends every Sunday, alone.
They are an unwitting hurdle to the young father who passes by every day and thinks this Sunday he will boldly walk up each one; but he doesn’t. Is he afraid the very thing he’s searching for is waiting at the top?
They are a mountain too high to climb for the young mother who is afraid she’ll be ostracized if she walks in without a husband. She’s won’t allow her children to be judged. She can’t bear any more pain in her life.
They are an angry barrier for the woman who used to come every week, but when her life grew hard, and worry, anger, and bitterness took root in her heart, she decided church wasn’t worth the effort.
They are a welcome sign to the Christian who loves to come and worship God with other believers. They are an invitation to come and learn more of God’s Word and how to apply it to our lives.
Do church steps speak to you? What do they say? Do they call you to come in, sit a while and visit with God? Do they frighten you? Are they off-putting?
Our culture tells us that going to church is not necessary, even for Christians. God’s Word says something different:
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — all the more as you see the Day approaching.” — (Hebrews 10:25 NIV)
And it’s true, as Billy Sunday said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.” But it is at church where the Word of God is preached, and where someone who desires to know who God is will more likely find the truth.
“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” — (Romans 10:17 NIV)
There are many reasons why God wants us to meet together, not the least of which is so that we might be encouraged by other Christians, support one another, build relationships, and strengthen, love and serve God’s people. It is also as we meet together that we learn and develop a deeper understanding of God himself.
It is the beginning of a new year, and I suspect that many people made resolutions to go to church, or to attend more regularly, this year. If the Lord has been nudging you up the church steps, it is because he has something wonderful awaiting you inside.
If you are a regular church goer, will you take some time this Sunday and look for new faces. Will you put yourself in the shoes of that newcomer and try to imagine how hard it was to climb those steps. Will you reach out and welcome them in with genuine love and warmth?
If you are contemplating walking up those steps for the first time, or for the first time in a long time, will you look around and make eye contact with the regular church goer who is looking for you?