This Old House -- By: Lynda Weaver-Williams

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 06:1 (Fall 1988)
Article: This Old House
Author: Lynda Weaver-Williams


This Old House

Lynda Weaver-Williams

Free-lance minister and writer
Richmond, Virginia

“Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by [people] but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and [those] who believe.., in him will not be put to shame.’ To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,’ and ‘A stone that will make [people] stumble, a rock that will make them fall’; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of [God] who called you out of darkness into.., marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.”

1 Peter 2:4–10

Martin Luther King told the story of a famous novelist who died. Shuffled in his papers, he left behind a list of suggested plots. This was one: “A widely separated family inherits a house in which they have to live together.”

Now here’s a story we can relate to because it’s where we find ourselves as the Church today. We are a family, in the widest, most separated terms, yet still we live under the same roof. By biblical inheritance and historical precedent, we in the Church share the same family name and the same address.

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Now this house of faith is old and rickety. Sagging porch, leaky roof; some days we’re not too sure this shaky, old house will survive.

And there’s a host of skeptics waiting to say, “I told you so.” Research in hand, they abandoned the institutional Church long ago. In the next millennium, say the social scientists, the Church has about a 20 to 1 shot. For them the Church is useless. In an interview one young woman explained her churchless faith this way: “I believe in God and me. I can’t remember the last time I went to church, but my faith has carried me a long way.” Her faith? She calls it “Sheilaism,” after herself. Sheila and her many friends live beyond the Church, with no regrets. And if we think about it, we all know a few Sheilas.

Some years back a small Methodist church in an Indiana farm...

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