The first hymn in our blue Mennonite Hymnal starts with a question: “What is this place where we are meeting?” Answer: “Only a house, the earth its floor, walls and a roof sheltering people, windows for light, an open door. Yet it becomes a body that lives when we are gathered here, and know our God is near.”
This hymn text has been on my mind ever since we started to discuss remodeling the 2nd floor youth space. Now that construction has officially began, I find myself hoping and praying more than ever that the decisions we make about lighting, electronics, color choices, furniture, appliances, will not become ends in and of themselves, but a means to provide a shelter where we can come to know a God who is present with us and who calls us to become shelter to one another, absorbing and then reflecting light. Let’s not just have a beautiful space in other words, let’s make sure we become beautiful followers of Jesus in that space!
I’m grateful to every person who has devoted time and energy to this project: Stewardship Committee, Church Council, Youth Room Remodel Task Force, Trustees, Youth Program Director Renee Reimer and all those who have volunteered at various points.
And lastly, I wish to pay tribute to the woman who made this project possible: Mary Lucille Hays Larson. Mrs. Larson, formerly of Rosedale, passed away January 22, 2013 at the age of 87. Part of her trust fund was designated for Rainbow Mennonite Church. As a long-time member of Rosedale Methodist Church (now Rainbow Mennonite), Lucille had fond memories of this church and neighborhood. In a letter written to the family, I told them, “we are humbled and privileged to be one of the recipients of Lucille’s generosity..plans for use of the funds will be determined through a process of discernment, in keeping with the vision and mission of our congregation and values cherished by Lucille.”
Education was one such value cherished by Lucille. And so, the congregation decided to designate this gift toward the remodeling of the youth space on the 2nd floor. From what I understand, Lucille valued the church being a place of open doors, shelter and light. And so, we begin…or rather, we hope to continue that legacy…