I must have driven by the old church hundreds of times without knowing what it was. Dense trees, brush and vines yielded glimpses of a roofless square of rough stone. The cemetery next door was completely obscured.
For several months now, volunteers have been reclaiming the church and the headstones from nature. It’s an artifact of local history recovered for a new generation.
The building’s front wall is intact, one side is gone, and the back is completely fallen into the sanctuary. The head of the preservation effort noted that it was engineered that way – to fall inward. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad that the church builder looked ahead to the congregation’s demise.
A little is known about how the church began, less about why it closed its doors before the turn of the 20th century. What story would the walls tell? In the best case, the church had its time, played its part in God’s plan, and then He scattered it. But maybe like those stone walls, it got lost in a thicket of worldly entanglements (Matthew 13:7, 22). Perhaps it collapsed inward in a storm of petty infighting and selfish ambition (2 Cor. 12:20). Maybe it became a place where the spiritual dead outnumbered the living (James 2:17).
A hundred years from now, what will the walls of our churches say? God willing and if Jesus hasn’t returned, they will still echo with the praise of another generation of disciples. They will, if we keep the weeds cut back, each stone where it was placed, and the people inside spiritually alive. Because that pile of rock in the woods, fascinating as it is, should sadden any believer.