There is an Orthodox Church in Lublin, Wisconsin, population a lot less than five hundred, and its been there for over a century. A small building, but well maintained, with a cemetery next to it (how can I get a spot?) and a parsonage with a church hall in the basement. You can see it in this blog’s header.
And its beautiful, not just for the way its been kept up over the years but also because of the kind of people who will to keep such a parish going in an out-of-the-way place. Inside and out there is a serene beauty, simple not fancy yet real to the perceptive.
People think, sometimes, that the best Orthodox churches are the ones with magnificent buildings, six figure plus budgets, and every possible group or service to be desired. Perhaps. Yet I think there’s something wonderful about a small group of people who, given opportunities to close the doors or move on to so-called bigger and better things, believe enough in their faith and their place to stay.
Year after year they dust and clean and mow the lawn and give what they can to have a traveling Priest visit every so often. There’s really no one to pass the responsibilities off on. The choir director, unpaid, finally retired at 85, and some of the men come early on Sunday morning to open up the church and get the heat going. When God calls you home you don’t have to travel far, just across the driveway to the grassy field with the three bar crosses.
I’ve preached before hundreds, really, but Holy Assumption Church in Lublin, Wisconsin, at the edge of the forest and miles from the main road has stuck with me somehow. There is something there or perhaps something that it evoked in me that was deep and special and holy.
I may never get back there again. They may not last much longer but I hope they do. There would be a distinct hole in the world where they used to be. We need little churches with their faith, their love, their constancy over time and the will to be a parish even if worldly “success” passes them by. We need little churches out in the country to stand sentinel over their towns. We need to keep a humble simplicity in our collective lives, a simplicity more beautiful than any gold fixture. There’s a world of lessons in places like Holy Assumption for all of us and if such places pass away we’ll be the less.
There’s more to write, but now this is enough. Until then my mind is still looking east, past the altar, through the stained glass, and somewhere beyond the woods in Lublin.