On the last weekend in April, spring finally made an appearance in Northern Illinois. It was a shy appearance, to be sure. But the daffodils were showing signs of being...just about to bloom. And the warmth of the sun was just so...adequate. But spring!
It was on this weekend that my church celebrated the 150 year birthday of its original building in downtown Geneva. This has been a year of celebration, in small ways, but this April weekend was a culmination of St. Mark's sesquicentennial.
Let's think about that first Sunday, in 1868, when the first service was held behind these red doors. It wasn't their first meeting. These Christians had been gathering for a few years in homes around the Geneva area. These people had seen hard times. The nation had been divided by Civil War and had seen the assassination of President Lincoln. There was hardly a family that had not endured a loss in that war.
Meeting in that new sanctuary must have brought a new sense of hope for the future.
But what is the significance of those red doors?
It is said that church doors were first painted red in the Middle Ages. There are several reasons given, but the one I lean toward is that the red color represents the blood of Christ. It also harkens back to the blood painted on the Israelites’ doors in Egypt.
Historically the red doors signify a place of safety and sanctuary. Anyone who entered through the doors would not be harmed or captured, even by the enemy in wartime. Spiritual and physical protection could be found there.
We hear about “safe spaces” these days. The concept has almost become a joke. But ideally the church should be the ultimate safe space. We don’t always reach ideals though.
No one should be afraid to come through our doors because they feel unworthy or not holy enough.
This little chapel has a full, "modern" church attached to it which you can't see in the picture. We are planning to add even more to the building because God is faithful. The church continues to grow.
And the red doors still stand.