Spent some time with family today and along the way we visited the beautiful Chicago Cultural Center. One of their current exhibits is called “Mecca Flat Blues.” The exhibition includes enlargements of historic photographs that convey a compelling story. The story of a building built at first for the first class white citizens and eventually the home of middle-class African-Americans and jazz artists who came to Chicago during the Great Migration.
One of the phrases that struck me most at the temporary art installation was: “Outsiders called it a slum. Insiders considered a shelter.” A building once housing the “elite” became a safe place for the immigrant, the poor, and those in need.
It all made me stop and think. Today’s larger church buildings – could they be used now or in the future for purposes more grandeur? The church should be a safe place for all, a room full of diverse stories, a place of peace, love, and hope. The church should not be a place that attracts only those of one particular group or interest. What are we and can we do about this? When we do not stop to evaluate our purposes or follow Jesus’ examples of restoration and inclusion, it may be time to sing the “Mecca Church Blues.”
Another gallery in the cultural center included Aleksandar Hemon’s “Reasons Why I Do Not Wish to Leave Chicago: An Incomplete, Random List.” Number 13 caught my attention: “Suburbanites patrolling Michigan Avenue, identifiable by their Hard Rock Café shirts, oblivious to the city beyond the shopping and entertainment areas.” Is it possible that some of our churches “patrol their buildings in their “Christian” attire, oblivious to those without hope in their communities beyond their Christian bookstores and modern worship bands?”