I bring you greetings from this church’s partner in America, West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Cleveland, Ohio.
All the love of West Shore, all its prayers, all its congratulations and blessings on this joyous occasion which I am capable of conveying, I convey with all my heart.
And, in these next few moments, I wish to briefly reflect with you on what it means for this to be not just any space but SACRED space. HOLY and SANCTIFIED space.
Let us turn to the Bible to understand all this more deeply. Its very first words, I believe, are the source of insight we are looking for. Those unforgettable words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
God, in other words, is a builder, using cosmic materials of light and darkness, of time, of space, of water and earth, of stars and planets, and of plants and animals. Such were the raw materials that God used to create the sanctuary of the Earth, which became the home of Adam and Eve and of every human being since.
God did this work of building with a singular purpose. Humans, the Bible also tells us, were created in the image of God, which is a way of saying that the seeds of Gods’ love and wisdom are planted within each of us as holy potentials. We are all children of God, and life is an opportunity for these holy seeds to grow into maturity, so that the child might grow to become increasingly like the Parent.
What then is the purpose of our Earth home? To be the room in which this moral drama of learning and growing might unfold.
It is, at one and the same time, the purpose of every church that ever existed and ever will exist. Whenever architects and engineers and workers of every kind come together to labor in service of creating a church sanctuary—or renovating it—they reenact God’s work at the very beginning of time, of building a home for the human spirit’s evolution.
Uniquely, churches are where people grow in truth and in compassion.
Uniquely, churches are where God can become known, through Jesus.
This building which we today are recommissioning and reordaining, rebuilt 213 years ago upon the foundations of even older churches, is a unique space where children of God may remember–in a frenzied and troubled world that can make us forget–that we are indeed children of God, and our purpose is to become truly happy by drawing out the holy potentials for love and wisdom that God has put within us.
This church is like the Garden of Eden made visible.
Through the doors of this church, anyone who would seek to return to that ancient Garden and experience closeness with God, may.
It has been so for 700+ years!
May it be so for 700 years more, and many times more than that!
And I would say one more thing.
The present minister of this church, Rev. Fekete, from what I have seen, well serves the purpose of this place as being a Garden where the children of God here in Bagyon might grow in truth and in love.
For 23 years now, he has served it well.
A year ago, around this time, I met Bela one morning on his porch, and he wanted to show me something. He had started collecting artifacts from Bagyon families, so as to create a museum that would help preserve the history of this village and prevent precious items from being lost forever. Not for the first time did it strike me, that here is someone whose love and leadership is for the Bagyon community as a whole, and it can’t be contained just within these walls.
Now, among the artifacts he was collecting were photos of all kinds, old photos.
One was of Bagyon youth from 1955–around 150 young men in ties and vests if not full suits and women with beautifully styled hair and wearing dresses with flowery designs.
Another was of a large family taking a break from farming their plot of land. Women wearing white aprons. Men in tall straw hats. Crates full of vegetables stacked one on top of each other.
Yet a third picture is from more than 100 years ago, of proud soldiers in Hungarian military garb, wearing shiny tall boots and hats cocked rather jauntily to the side.
Bela must have shown me 50 of such pictures of all kinds—he wanted to show me the ancestors of the people he serves now—and there was something curious happening in that moment which I knew then I would never forget. He was showing me the pictures on his laptop, and, given the angle of the morning’s sunlight, every picture I saw had his reflection superimposed upon it. Bela is smiling. He’s intensely interested in every one of the photos and he’s smiling.
It’s like Bela and the ancestors had become one.
I add this to my reflection mainly to say that, in this sacred space which echoes the Earth-space God created at the beginning of time, and which serves the same basic purpose, you also have a faithful gardener who loves this community and is dedicated to its wellbeing.
Yes you do.
May his leadership prosper. Blessings to him and his family as well–Poli and Lazlo–on this joyous occasion!