Turning Churches Into Cathedrals

WORDS FROM W.W                                                                  June 28, 2013

 

     In Santo Domingo today we visited the oldest church in the Americas, the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor. It was built between 1512 and 1540 under the leadership of Bishop Fray Padilla. Being in a five hundred year old church is quite an experience, especially considering the age of church in our own country.

    But Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor is now more like a museum than a church. Tour groups come in, pay their admission fee, and then receive headphones and a transistor player that guides each of the group members through the church. There are a number of small side chapels, most of which are closed off to keep the tourists at a distance. The church is ornate and massive. Groups are told to be quiet because there may be people there who are trying to pray.

     Bottom line, however, the church is now a tourist destination because it’s old!

     It hit me that centuries ago people wouldn’t have thought about taking a tour of it. They would have gone there to worship, to pray, to be a part of a spiritual community, to receive words of hope and instruction, and partake of the Eucharist.

     My fear is that the church today will be a museum years from now. That we will slowly be transformed into a destination for people who are looking for a aide trip instead of people looking to be close to God.

     It is a turning point time for the church. And what has hit me this week is that people are looking at a church to see which it is and will be. In working with children here in Santo Domingo we know that they are looking to the people of God for a hand up; that is, to help them reach up to a life that doesn’t just talk about hope, but becomes “realized hope.” They are looking to the people of God not just to say the words, but to live the words.

     When words are lived churches continue to be beacons of light and people of mission. Tour groups don’t visit to take pictures of dead saints; people visit to see the living saints.

     This week a few of our mission team became first-time sponsors of some of the children of Herrera. The children will see in the coming year that the church is active and loving. Why else would someone from Colorado want to see a little boy from Santo Domingo live a full, healthy, and purpose-filled life?

Museums don’t care about the visitors; they just take care of the exhibits.

     The people of God care for the visitors and those who even live far-away, as they exhibit the grace of God, and the hope of life lived for the Lord.

Explore posts in the same categories: children, Christianity, Community, Faith, Grace, Jesus, love, Pastor, Prayer, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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