I’ve been coming here to worship for more than half a century now. This place is as much a spiritual home to me […]
I’ve been coming here to worship for more than half a century now. This place is as much a spiritual home to me as any walled church building I’ve ever attended, or even those I’ve preached in.
But there’s no sound system to help me hear the choir, unless you count the wind whispering through the giant pine trees that line this sanctuary.
And there’s no preacher at a microphone, though you may hear the words the Spirit Himself speaks through the memory: “Be still and know that I am God.”
No air conditioning system, purring quietly, alleviates the heat when I come here to worship on a hot July morning. No gas furnace delivers humidity-controlled warm air when I sit here in the freezing fog of February.
Whatever serves for lighting is only what the Father hung in the sky millennia ago—“the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also” (Gen. 1:16).
No high-definition screens confront me in the foyer, announcing church potlucks and men’s ministries, nor is there a blinking billboard out beside the road advertising this week’s sermon.
Here on a west-facing hillside above the rolling green landscape of land I love, I’ve been worshipping the Lord since my parents first brought me here at the age of 9. Drawn by the simple, unwired tranquility of the place, I’ve returned to pray dozens of times since, usually alone, to listen to the choir of songbirds in the hedges down below; to feel the rain on my upturned face in a springtime storm; to pull my coat even tighter about me when this sanctuary is decked with snow.
This outdoor place of worship—“Cathedral of the Pines” they call it—has been the place I’ve come to find the Lord who both predates all our technology and will finally outlast it, too. For at their best, our walls and lighting, microphones and carpets, video displays and smoothly-functioning heating systems sometimes actually obscure the great, untameable reality of God. Our screens and pixels frequently become our chief memories of encounters with “the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple” (Isa. 6:1).
Unless we sometimes seek the Lord in places where we confront our true size in God’s universe, we are in danger of creating a God “in our own image,” one who fits conveniently within the screen of our iPads or our smartphones.
As you read this month’s Adventist World and note the thoughtful discussions of how believers can wisely use new digital technologies, lay down the magazine to find a quiet hour to stand beneath an open sky and sing with me, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth” (Ps. 8:1).