This past Sunday we rededicated our Undercroft. The Undercroft has been under construction since November 2013, and includes two Sunday School Rooms, our Parish Hall, two bathrooms, and the kitchen. All rooms were completely renovated with the exception of the kitchen, which only received new flooring. During construction, our Coffee Hours were moved to the Narthex; a tight space, but one that sufficed – and certainly brought us closer, literally and figuratively. Many of our normal fellowship activities were either moved off campus or were cancelled altogether. Our support groups had to move to our Library, which meant meetings on those nights also had to go off campus.
As I looked around the room during our rededication celebration, two things occurred to me. One, I had really missed being in that space. Many warm memories have been formed in that space, which all came flooding back. But mostly, I missed the sound – the noise of people talking, laughing, sharing stories, and lingering a little longer over a meal. Though we had shared in communion at the altar upstairs, the communion meal was continuing downstairs: and it was a raucous meal – one I am sure Jesus would have approved.
Two, I found myself a little wary by the sense of deep comfort that was overwhelming me. One of the nice things about being forced off campus was that we finally did what we had been hesitant to do – take the church out into the world. Our committees were meeting at local dining establishments, our coffee hours spilled out into the lawn over the summer, and we got to know each other’s homes more intimately. My fear is that in the comfort of being back “home” we will stop venturing out into the world, sharing our presence and ministry with others.
My hope is that we can do two things with our space. First, my hope is that we can share that feeling of home with others by inviting more outside groups to utilize our space. I would love for us to share our joy and warmth with others, so that this can become their home too. Two, my hope is that we can keep taking church to the streets and to one another. There is a way in which having meetings here month after month starts to stifle joy and creativity. My hope is that our committees will agree to keep going off campus at least a few times a year to mix it up; but more importantly, to show the community that there is life and activity at St. Margaret’s. And they are most welcome to join us!