Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3 (NIV)
From my office window, I can see a construction project at a local church. Their main worship center is being renovated. What is unique about this project is that they are taking a very modern looking building constructed in the 1970s and changing it to be more like their old chapel, a historic structure dating to 1912. Just a few years ago, that almost 85 year old brick church was in danger of being torn down. Designed in Eclectic Romanesque Revival, it combined several historic architectural modes and had only been slightly altered in its many years of use. While a fire in 1946 changed the interior and a road widening project shortened the main entrance, the church’s impressive exterior and its two unique spires remained as did many beautiful stained glass windows. Over time, the building had been neglected and many church members felt that it should be torn down. Its old fashioned appearance did not reflect the image they desired to present to the community. They felt it would be too costly to restore the building and cheaper to build from scratch. However, a handful of members, many whose ancestors had constructed the old church, valued its heritage and fought hard to save the building. A combination of modern municipal building setbacks, the discovery that the entire building was inlaid with strong supportive steel and the willingness of volunteers to step up and do much of the work changed the tide, and the church committed to save the historic building. One member, a building contractor, set much of his own work aside to spearhead the effort. Giving up his own time and money, and at one point endangering his own life by working in the church attic in the summer heat, he pushed and prodded to make the restoration happen. Members of his family and others gave of their time to clean and restore the church’s stained glass windows. Several years ago, the church was reopened and is now the site of many church activities including weddings and funerals. The restoration work even won an award from our state historic preservation society. I get tickled every time I see the work on the new building as they add arches, sloping tile roofs and a steeple to match the historic structure. What once was an old fashioned, outdated building has influenced a total makeover of its modern neighbor. Isn’t that the way it is with the church today? Christians are accused of being outmoded and antiquated. Our ways are a contrast to the liberal and progressive lifestyle of the world. Truth is no longer in fashion and everyone is invited to do what they think is right in their own eyes. Yet, we still have within us the power to influence our community and nation for the good. Do not lose heart. Stand strong and firm in your beliefs. Just as Jesus overcame sin and death, Truth will win once and for all. What is “old” will be new again.