Ephesians 5:32 This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church.
It seems so old fashioned now, but I can remember a time when the title “Mother Church” was constantly used. It referred to the place where we were spiritually nurtured, either as a child or as a new Christian. In my lifetime, there are two places that I would call my “Mother Church.”
The first was a mission hall situated at the heart of one of Glasgow’s toughest and most deprived areas. As I picture it now, I can still see the barbed wire at the top of its steel fence and some of the graffiti that was constantly spray painted on the outside walls. Inside the hall were a couple of classrooms and a sanctuary that could seat about sixty people. The pews were stained with a dark lacquer which would stick to your clothes on a wet day. As churches go, it was as run down as the surrounding area, but it was in that hall that I first really came to hear and know about Jesus as a child.
My second nurturing church couldn’t have been anymore different. It was a huge Gothic church in the center of town. It was about three hundred years old and could seat at least a thousand people. Sadly, when I went there, the congregation numbered about sixty on Sunday mornings.
The sanctuary was magnificent and the stained glass windows were absolutely beautiful. Each time I went there, I was mesmerized. The church organ was one of the finest musical instruments in the city and the organist was a professor of music from Glasgow University.
The Ramshorn Church, as it was called, was surrounded by a cemetery that went back to the seventeenth century. It also had a downstairs Fellowship Hall with a crypt beside it where famous Cotton Merchants and Tobacco Lords were buried. And it was there in that fellowship hall, one Wednesday night in June 1977, that I gave my heart to Jesus. I was reborn and my spirit was nurtured in that church for over five years.
Perhaps today, we might all take time to think about our ‘Mother Churches,’ and give thanks to God for their importance in our lives. Some people think that churches are outdated, old fashioned, and archaic, but Christ has used them successfully as His vehicle for bringing people closer to God for almost two thousand years. The Church is the Bride of Christ, so do we honestly believe that He is going to abandon her after all these centuries? So long as Time remains, so will Christ’s Bride.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the churches that have nurtured our spirits and brought us closer to You. Thank You for the congregations that have mothered us and shown us the way to God’s Kingdom. Continue to bless our present churches and help them to nurture young people and new Christians. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.