On my desk and shelves, in my home office and in my office on Parliament Hill are some objects that have a certain amount of significance in my life but which are otherwise useless. It is not like I need more ornamentation or decorations after all. Each one though has a story attached to it, a memory and/or a person of significance. From time to time, with your permission I would like to glance over my desk and tell you some stories about what you can see there.
Every Canadian Member of Parliament has received one of these. I got mine from an MP who didn’t want to keep his. Or maybe it was his staff that didn’t like it.
I have very mixed feelings about this, even as I display it on my desk (well, actually right now it is on my filing cabinet). I am drawn to the simplicity of the faith involved, but a little repelled by the crudeness of construction.
This is not great art. It looks like it might have been made by an eight-year-old. I would suggest even younger, except someone had to print the words on it. No attempt has been made to make it esthetically pleasing. Nor to water down the in your face Christian message.
The man who sends these to Canadians lawmakers has made more than 3,000 of these churches over the years since he started in 2008. It wouldn’t be that hard – I think even I could do it, and I have difficulty hammering a nail in straight. The chief cost would be time, and a bit for materials. I would probably get bored with such a project, but the sender I presume feels this is his calling.
I do wonder how effective such a gift is. Is the intent evangelistic? Should the recipient feel convicted of their sin and repent? I don’t know. The language seems dated to me somehow, held over from the early 20th century when there was perhaps a greater cultural consensus and understanding of the Christian message. I suspect that today “sin” is a null concept to many if not most people, including, sadly, our lawmakers.
Jesus talked a lot about sin. But when he did so it was in the context of relationship. There are things we can say to people face to face that just don’t work any other way. The printed word is cold. Your eyes don’t hear tone and nuance. There is no smile on the page. I’m not sure how favourably people respond to a message written on a crudely constructed wooden church.
I am sure the person who sends these churches to Members of Parliament made them with love. There was prayer involved in the manufacture. But I’m not sure that comes across in the creation and the accompanying message.
Which is a shame. We all could use a little love. And we certainly all need to be forgiven for our sins. Even if we haven’t a clue in this day and age what a sin is or why we would need God’s forgiveness.
Maybe these churches do occasionally spark some dialogue. I hope so.