You're looking at the Spirit of Joy Evangelical Lutheran Church on Rouse Road, just north of the intersection of Rouse and East Colonial. I don't know how long this church has been here, but I've passed it coming and going to work when I take the Rouse Road exit off the 408.
This church is unusual in that it's right up on the road, across the street from a 7/11 store and gas station, in the midst of heavy traffic on East Colonial. It's unusual compared to many other churches that are hidden away in the suburbs, surrounded by landscaped properties. This church, with its simple but effective face, is right up there in the middle of urban life.
I think of this church and all the ways that we, as Christians, approach religion in America. We're keen to make sure our politicians, especially our Presidents, are Christian. Yet we keep our churches segregated and isolated, except for the interesting differences such as Spirit of Joy. As Christmas approaches its inevitable final days all I see and hear is the secular side of it, the buying for gifts, Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays, nothing about the reason for this holiday, the birth of Christ.
I don't mean putting up nativity scenes either. I mean really understanding what Christmas should mean, which is totally counter to our blind consumerism this time of year. I think of all this while we still struggle through the Great Recession and I think of all it has hurt.
What triggered all of this was sitting in front of the HDTV and watching a trailer/ad for "The Darkest Hour", a science fiction/horror movie about alien destruction from above. On Christmas day. Or another about a woman being abducted by a serial killer. On Christmas eve. What have we finally turned into? Is there anything left worth salvaging?
We're lost, individually and as a nation. Our secular leadership can't help us. Our religious leadership can't help us either. And I have no solution that doesn't come across as glib, sanctimonious, or cynical.