Reverend Mary Jacobs delivered the message at Chalice this morning, and this was the title of her sermon. The New Tool was our building, which has been the source of some frustration for the congregation as it hangs at about 80% complete. Nothing is threatening its completion; we are just experiencing the standards delays that go along with permitting, some cosmetic rework, etc. I liked Mary’s analogy of the building as a tool. A tool is something you use for all its worth, and like many at Chalice, I hope we use this building as a staging point for mission work, as a community center, as a launching pad for mission and evangelism. It will also allow more regular fellowship and less energy devoted to setting up and tearing down.
As you might suspect from my listing, church buildings make me nervous. Much of the hatefulness that my dad experienced as a parish minister was related to use of the building. Also, it has been such an energy sink for the last year and will be such a financial commitment for years to come, that I hope it is worth it. (I know for most people that seems crazy. Of course you have to have a building!) Mary’s sermon today gave me a really helpful way to characterize the issue. Rather than just a wish that the building is worth it, which puts the responsibility on the shoulders of someone else, we can make sure we use the building with sufficient vigor to make it worthwhile, which nicely puts the responsibility back on ours.