The Chapel of the Middle

Mark 9.7

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

Did any of you see the commercial during the Super Bowl where Bruce Springsteen is a survivor of some kind of global apocalypse and he just drives around Kansas in a Jeep looking for the possibility of other humans?

I jest. 

And yet, that’s exactly what it looked like.

In case you didn’t see it, here’s a link: JEEP – The Middle

Regardless, here’s the narration that The Boss shares while wistfully gazing into the middle distance over the barren landscape of “middle America.”

“There’s a chapel in Kansas standing on the exact center of the lower 48. It never closes. All are more than welcome to come and meet here. In the middle. It’s no secret: the middle has been a hard place to get to lately. Between red and blue, between servant and citizen, between our freedom and our fear. Now fear has never been the best of who we are. And as for freedom, its not the property of just the fortunate few. It belongs to us all. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, it’s what connects us. And we need that connection. We need the middle. We just have to remember the very soil we stand on is common ground. So we can get there. We can make it to the mountaintop, through the desert. And we will cross this divide. Our light has always found its way through the darkness. And there’s hope… on the road… up ahead.”

The screen cuts to black and we are left with these words: “To the ReUnited States of America – JEEP.”

Now, to those who feel compelled to go out and buy a Jeep in order to live into the middle ground, go for it.

But if you were a little surprised to see some of those sights while hearing those words, I offer this, theological, corrective:

Theres’ a chapel in Kansas standing on the exact center of the lower 48

As a Christian worship space, it is the place where sinners gather to be reminded of their sinfulness while hearing the Good News of the Gospel made manifest in Jesus Christ. All are welcome to come and meet here, but don’t be surprised if it shakes you to your core. For, Jesus is one strange Lord. He commands his followers to turn the other cheek, pray for their enemies, and sell their possessions in order to distribute the proceeds to all who are in need. 

It’s no secret: the middle has been a hard place to get to lately

And yet, the chapel of middle places proclaims a Word that is anything but the middle. In the new kingdom the chapel points to, the first will be last and the last will be first. There is a table to which all are invited, but it is a table that reminds us, rather starkly, that Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners, and that proves God’s love toward us. 

Now fear has never been the best of who we are. And as for freedom, its not the property of just the fortunate few. It belongs to us all… We just have to remember the very soil we stand on is common ground… We can make it to the mountaintop… Our light has always found its way through the darkness…

If we have any freedom, it comes through and from Jesus Christ who frees us from the power of sin and death. Any other freedom pales in comparison. And yes, it does belong to everyone but not because the soil we stand on his common ground – freedom belongs to us because the soil we stand on is holyground. God has upturned the cosmos in the person of Jesus Christ. It is not freedom that takes us to the mountaintop or gets us to a place of hope – It is God who takes us to the mountaintop through the desert, and who is the light that shines in the darkness.