I know I have referenced this children’s verse before, which reminds us that:
“The church is not a building;
the church is not a steeple.
The church is not a meeting place.
The church is a People.”
These words echoed all day in my head during a recent retreat sponsored by our local Synod, focusing on numerous settings/events that create “Sacred Spaces”— spiritual meeting venues/activities for people who don’t consider themselves “churchy” but like to get together to create and share meaningful social and spiritual experiences. These can be nature walks, attending music, theatre or art events, poetry readings/sharing, guided meditations, yoga— even sports events. Pastor Jean Barrington, Rev. Bev Mar and I experienced different ‘church’ activities in the inspiring natural setting of Lutherwood church camp on the shores of Lake Samish.
We went to wild church, potluck church, creative church, celtic church, pottery church, even pub church. And whatever your hobby, activity or interest (dog walk church? horseback church?) one could create a Sacred Space for it. The important thing to remember is that each event stands on its own as a spiritual gathering, not intended as an “outreach” program, a way to “bring people into the church,” but rather to bring people together to share a beloved activity, a unique experience, or a profound meeting of like-minded souls. These events are not liturgical; in fact, the word “Church” casually functioned more like a ‘code’ word. Many stories were shared describing the communities that formed around these events, so much so that people wouldn’t say they are part of, say, the ‘Trinity’ Church, for example, but rather part of the ‘Trinity’ Community.
Two thoughts stay with me from this experience: First, is that pretty much the entirety of Point Roberts can be understood and experienced as ‘sacred space.’ That’s what we love about it! We have Monument ‘church,’ Lily Point ‘church,’ Lighthouse ‘church,’ Maple Beach ‘church’ and multiple other places that folks could identify as Sacred to themselves. On one of our Lily Point walks on the main trail, my daughter Dana and I were stopped in our tracks by a young man who had set up a music stand at one of the lookouts and was playing his trumpet — for the whales, we concluded. “Whale Church!”
The second thought constantly with me is of that old, damaged, historic building we meet in weekly and call “church.” Which is also a brilliant concert venue. Which houses a Social Hall much-used by local groups for gatherings, meetings, (don’t forget “Quilt Church!”) receptions and around which we have gathered innumerable times as a community.
I don’t think the people of Point Roberts actually need to go ‘on retreat’ to experience or understand the idea of Sacred Space. It is where we live. Where we gather, where we have meetings, adventures, parties, social and spiritual gatherings. I think it is safe to say, in Point Roberts, there is no “church” like home!
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