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A Musing about Building 5/31/23

A wall stood in front of a man’s bakery, a barrier that was 16 feet high and 30 feet long. One summer, for reasons known only to the man, he demolished it. Then he asked his 12–year–old son Will and his brother Harry to rebuild the wall — by hand.

The boys were stunned. It seemed like an arduous task, bordering on the impossible. But they got to work. Every day, after school, they mixed concrete and laid brick upon brick. After a year and a half of work, they laid the final brick and stood back to examine the new wall. Their father came by and said to them, “Now, don’t you ever tell me you can’t do something.” Then he walked back into his bakery.

The boy named Will never forgot the lesson of that project. “I learned that you don’t set out to build a wall,” he said. “You don’t start by saying, ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid.’ If you do that every single day, soon you will have a wall.” The boy grew up to be the successful actor we know as Will Smith.

In the anecdote above, Will Smith and his brother learned a valuable lesson from rebuilding the wall. He discovered that true success comes not from grand ambitions alone but from dedicating oneself to the present moment and doing one’s best in every task. Similarly, the church's mission is not to create the grandest institution or make extravagant claims but to serve others with unwavering dedication and love, day after day.

In our journey of faith, the church is like a wall, built by the hands and hearts of its members, brick by brick, day by day. Just like the man's bakery wall, the church may encounter barriers and obstacles that seem insurmountable. However, when the church works diligently, fueled by love, and guided by the principles of the Kingdom of God, remarkable things can be achieved.

In the last 50 years, the church has gone through tremendous turmoil and change. Once the center of life in most American communities, the church now occupies only a tiny piece of most people’s minds. Lots could be said (and has already been said about the cause), but the fact is that it is what it is.

Many folks lament about this reality and want to go back to “the good old days” or at least have the church regain similar prestige that it once held. While it is easy to measure the church by worldly standards, Jesus did not leave us with a business plan but a Great Commission.

So, let me state clearly, I do not believe the church should be measured by size, prestige, power, or wealth. I do believe that the church is to be measured by its faithfulness, its care for those in need, its work for justice, and most importantly, its unconditional radical love.

Additionally, many of these folks want that growth to occur in numbers and want it to happen overnight as if the “decline” of the church happened overnight – it did not.

However, all growth of and in the church, be it in numbers or, more importantly, in its ministry, is done by small acts repeated again and again. If the church is to grow, it will only be by such faithfulness.

Just as Will laid each brick as perfectly as it could be laid, the members of the church should strive to love and care for others in the same manner. Through small acts of kindness, compassion, and selflessness, we can make a profound impact on people's lives and bring the light of God's kingdom into the world.

The process of building the wall took time and effort. Likewise, the church's work in loving others and building the kingdom of God requires perseverance and commitment. It is not a task that can be accomplished overnight but rather a lifelong journey that demands continuous dedication.

As Will's father reminded him, the wall's completion represented the ability to achieve what might initially seem impossible. Similarly, when the church members work together diligently, united in their purpose, they can overcome obstacles and create something beautiful in the service of God and others.

Let us be inspired by Will's lesson and the dedication he and his brother displayed. May we, as members of the church and disciples of Jesus Christ, commit ourselves to laying each brick of love, kindness, and service with utmost care. By doing so, we contribute to the construction of a thriving community where the love of God is made real, and the Kingdom of God is realized.


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