Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
--Hebrews 13:16 NRSV
Occasionally when I talk to PHCC leaders, I try to point out the strengths or assets of PHCC as I see them, since I’m a newcomer and relative outsider to this faith community. One of the strengths or assets I see is the church’s location on 72nd Street between I-29 and Highway 9, a stone’s throw from an interstate exit, within a short drive or even walk from expensive subdivisions and low-income apartments. As our use of technology during the COVID pandemic has shown us, a church’s location doesn’t matter as much as it used to matter. Yet, I believe that if a church is going to have a building (and a growing number of congregations are choosing not to have one), then its location still matters a great deal.
In the short time I’ve been at PHCC, even during the pandemic with 20 or less people in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings (and dozens more viewing online), various strangers have found their way to PHCC seeking something. Traditional church visitors have come seeking a church that is more inclusive and open-minded than the churches they have previously known. Other visitors have come after suffering loss and while experiencing grief looking for comfort and reassurance God has not forsaken them. A young man who is homeless and probably mentally ill has twice slept on our property overnight. Another man struggling with drug addiction and other issues came in need of someone to listen to him and pray with him. Because of where our church sits, people of all different kinds are passing by and some stop--even during a pandemic--because their need is so great.
Long ago, Park Hill Christian Church was planted at this location. No, the church isn’t as large as it once was and yes, our culture has changed to the point where many no longer say they want to be a part of a church. What hasn’t changed however, is that people still hurt, still suffer, still search for meaning and still wonder if God loves them. What also hasn’t changed is that Park Hill Christian Church is still here on 72nd Street between I-29 and Highway 9.
This Advent season there is a lot of pain in the world: the pandemic, politics, the economy and a whole lot of anger looking for a place to go. As we prepare to ponder a night in Bethlehem when a young family came looking for room and somehow God came in a new and unpredictable way, let us remember that God still shows up looking for room in the guise of strangers who come to our church doors even during a pandemic. Advent is a time when we prepare ourselves to once again make room for Christ in our lives, let us also do the same in our church. Every day strangers pass this church building on 72nd Street and some have a need so great that they will turn off into our parking lot and come to our door.
As the carol reminds us, “Every heart prepare Him room.”
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Chase Peeples
6601 Northwest 72nd Street, Kansas City, MO 64151 | 816-741-1851