One of my favourite parts of my recent vacation was visiting so many churches around France. We saw churches that ranged anywhere from a few hundred to over 1,000 years old. I was in awe, moved by their grandeur, age and beauty, but also in thinking of the generations of people who had sung and prayed in these places – our ancestors in faith, the great communion of saints of which we are a part.

But the thing that I appreciated the most was how in so many of these churches, these historic buildings and monuments, there were signs of living communities, the actual Church that called these ancient stone walls and arches home, that made them more than museums. Evidence of more recent, modern additions of art. A bulletin from the previous Sunday. Flowers and new paschal candles to celebrate the joy of the resurrection, not unlike the new paschal candle that we have here at St. John’s.

On my last Sunday in France, we attended a service at the Roman Catholic Basilica of Saint-Gervais in the Normandy town of Avranches – a designated historic monument. And, in the middle of all that history and beauty, what warmed my heart and stuck with me the most was the deacon welcoming us at the door; the children, there with their families to take their first communion; someone adjusting a microphone so that the reader could actually be heard; the guitarist and singer leading the congregation in song as incense was used to prepare the altar and the people for Holy Communion.

It was a good reminder that while building matters, while buildings are beautiful, they are not the Church. It is the people of God, an Easter people, who fill a space with music and prayer and alleluias, who practice hospitality and generosity and love in community, enlivened by the Holy Spirit that make the Church more than a museum, but into the living, breathing, resurrected Body of Christ in the world.


Thanks be to God. Alleluia!