It’s still in Los Angeles. Although it sits on a corner in a neighborhood, that isn’t too far away from the city, it’s still a sacred space. For those who drive by, they might not notice it. For those who live in the neighborhood, they see it every day.
There are self-help meetings throughout the week. There’s an after school art program for children and on Friday afternoon’s people pick up organic fruits and vegetables at the church from an organic farmers market that uses the church campus. Down the street is one of the busiest Trader Joes I’ve ever seen. There’s a coffee place that I like about five minutes away. They make a mean jalapeño cheddar scone. It’s a really cool little neighborhood not too far from everything else in the city.
The church isn’t really in the heart of the city although downtown Los Angeles isn’t that far away. Maybe a fifteen-minute drive. Dodger stadium isn’t that far away either. There’s a high school nearby and an elementary school within walking distance from the church. I’ve noticed tons of children and families in the community. There’s also a nursing home in walking distance from the church.
This corner is indeed a sacred spot. It’s a holy place. I’ve heard some say, “you’re the church that has the food pantry.” I’ve heard others say, “it’s where the AA meetings are.” It’s a place of healing. It’s a place where people come to find silence from the noise filled city. It’s a corner depending on what day of the week it is, where people gather and give thanks to God for the gift of grace and mercy found in Jesus. Sunday mornings people gather together in the sanctuary as well to be in community together to experience what it means to listen to God and to simply sit still. It’s also a corner where people are allowed to just simply be. No strings attached. Come as you are.
In most cities, there are churches that sit in communities that have all kinds of issues. Whether it’s an urban church in the middle of the city or a church outside the city, there’s always something happening in the community. What I’ve noticed over the years that every church on every corner has in common is that it’s the place where people come and find rest at the foot of the cross.
No matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, whether or not you believe, it’s the one place in the world that should be a place of rest and where pillows are given out at no cost and free of charge. Pillows. Yes, I said pillows!
The neighborhood church should be a retreat center for the soul. It should be the place where we’re not stressing out about whatever it is that we usually stress about in the world. People need the local church to just chill and to just be. Our problem sometimes is that we’re not very good at just being. I think the Psalmist was spot on when he said that God is a safe place to hide. I think the local church is that place and should be a refuge. (Psalm 46:1-10)
I’m convinced that pastors don’t hang out enough at the foot of the cross either. What would it look like if we who serve alongside others in our churches actually spent more time at the foot of the cross? The way we view people would change. Our hearts would start to change and our agendas would start looking like God’s agenda when it comes to loving our neighbors.
Sometimes we have people who sleep on our church campus. There’s a guy who sometimes sleeps at the entrance of the sanctuary of our church, under the archway. Right above the archway on the roof is the cross.
Under the archway? Maybe he’s on to something. Maybe we who follow Jesus and do our best to be new commandment people need to practice the discipline of sleeping under the archway, in front of the church, at the foot of the cross, on the corner, in the neighborhood, near the city.
As we begin the season of Lent in a few days, let us not forget where it is that we find rest. Let us be the kinds of people that are always making room for everyone and anyone looking for a few moments of peace and quiet and most of all some rest. No strings attached. Come as you are, pillows provided, free of charge.
See you under the archway.
“To God be the glory.” Amen.
“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 CEB