This morning's sermon was somewhat special. It took the usual urging to give financially to a whole new level.
It started with 'vision'; in a proper way, not the hollow reflex of the business world. Then it went to generosity; about living in the light of our Saviour.
I liked that too. Generosity was used not merely about money, in fact, that was hardly mentioned. It was about a mental attitude. It was about the woman with two mites, in a way: a woman who was truly generous.
Then I let my eyes wonder over the front of our auditorium. I looked up. The gable light is divided by mullions that are obviously spaced just not quite evenly, and just not quite symmetrically about the apex line of the ceiling. To the right the backyard quality bare plywood covers for the baptismal pond, on bare pine frames. Nearby a 1950s style lectern pushed lazily against the pond casing, and in front of it a communion table from another era, in another style, just left there for no particular reason.
The lectern in use was a black and silver metal music stand. Unattractive, cheap. It was joined on stage by a trio of disorganised microphone stands. To the left at the rear was a non-descript blue tarpaulin flung over the drum kit. Another, quilted cover, partly covered the rarely used giant electric organ. The timber framed back of our wardrobe style piano faced us blankly.
Decoration was by way of two haphazardly placed living room sized vases with bunches of flowers completely out-scaled by the space, although nicely done in their own right. One on the banal plywood cover of the pond, the other on a tall stand, again styled incongruously with everything else in the space; as though we got it at a garage sale.
All this in contrast to the flash new million dollar extensions we've just completed.
A mess, haphazard; as though attention to surroundings is not church territory, putting the lie to the physicalness of God's creation. As though nothing has to be good, or considered or enjoyable; as though our space does not have to be a blessing to our guests, let alone ourselves.
Does this portray generosity; the light of our creator God who brought forth the world in love and creativity? Does it portray even basic care for the visual experience of the congregation or the atmosphere it produces?
No! The unspoken message was careless shabiness. Disdain for craft or joy. Disregard for the effort to deploy capabilty and resources with generosity. Not lavishly or to squander but generousity as an attitude pathed out of love and care.
It undid the sermon.