It seems that every building project faces some delays, so I suppose that it was inevitable that ULC’s new chapel project would face them too.
Due to new and higher cost estimates from our builder, some revisions are being made to our plans. New design drawings will be shared on ulcmn.com as soon as we have them. We hope to make such changes as will have a minimal impact on the structure, layout and aesthetic of the nave and chancel; and that will cut expenses on items that can either be redesigned, eliminated altogether, or eliminated temporarily to be added back at some time in the future.
Because of the need for revision, the plans have not yet been submitted to the city of Minneapolis Planning Commission. We hope to bring the design to them next month for their final approval. This means that groundbreaking will now be delayed until June or July. And completion of the new chapel has, therefore, also been delayed well beyond our original target date of Reformation 2017. We now anticipate construction to be finished by February or March of 2018.
On the bright side, our fundraising efforts went very well in 2016 and continue to go well in 2017 too. Cash and pledges received through March 31, 2017 for the new chapel project total $1,889,392.02. Included in this total are $214,250.93 in outstanding pledges of $350,784.94 pledged in 2016, and the $500,000 grant received from the Minnesota South District in 2016. $45,827 has been spent so far on construction.
Please continue to pray with us that the chapel construction may begin soon. If you are contributing to the Build-it-Back fund, we say a very big “thank you” to you. If you have not contributed yet or would like to do so again, you can do so by clicking the Martin Luther “Donate Now” button to the right of your screen. With increased building costs every contribution matters.
It is hard to believe that 2016 is nearly over. Thankfully there are still a few days left in this quickly aging year to have your contributions to the Build-it-Back fund matched dollar for dollar. You can make your tax-deductible donation by clicking on the Donate Now button to the upper right of this page. And a big thank you to everyone who is helping us to Build-it-Back.
If you would like to keep up with the progress of the fund and the new chapel, please visit the new ulcmn.com website’s support page and click on the Construction and Fundraising Update link.
The Advent and Christmas seasons are truly wonderful times of the year. The hymnody, the lessons, and preaching of Advent turn our hearts again to Christ our Lord in penitence and anticipation. Christmas answers with its own set of glorious hymns and carols, and the preaching of the incarnation of our Lord who came to redeem and save us, and who will come again at the end of time to bring His Church to His side as the Bride to her Husband.
While we look forward to the glorification of the Church and all her saints in heaven on that great day, we also recognize the need of the Church on earth for her Bridegroom’s graces now; and for a place to gather to receive those graces. This is why we build churches. This is why we are building a new chapel at the University of Minnesota.
Which brings us to another reason that this is a great time of year. During the month of December your contributions to the Build-it-Back fund will be doubled, up to a total of $20,000 thanks to a very generous donor who has once again offered this matching grant. You can give in person, by mail or online (click the Luther/Donate Now image to the right). Simply label your gift “Build-It-Back”.
Two generous donors have offered a total of $55,000 in matching funds for ULC’s Build-It-Back effort to put a new chapel up at the University of Minnesota. Now is a fantastic time to give to the project and see your gift doubled! All gifts received throughout the month of December will qualify. You can give in person, by mail or online (click the Luther/Donate Now image to the right). Simply label your gift “Build-It-Back”
The theme of exile and return is one that runs throughout the Old and New Testaments. It first makes an appearance in Genesis 3, where man, on account of his rebellions and sin is exiled from Paradise. No longer would he enjoy the easy and fulfilling labor of tending God’s Garden, but would be forced to work land that resisted his efforts. No longer would he dwell in peace and safety. And, most important, no longer would he have free access to the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve, by their sin, had exiled themselves from dwelling in a right relationship with God. And therefore, lest they eat the Tree of Life and confirm themselves in their rebellion eternally, God sends them out, placing cherubim with a flaming sword to block their return.
The history of mankind since that dark day has been a quest to return to the garden, a quest which takes one of two paths. The first is to find or to create a paradise of one’s own choosing. This path is, in a word, sin. It is to continue down the path of rejecting the good God gives and embracing the supposed good one can find or make apart from His grace. It is a path doomed to failure. It makes not paradise, but hell.
The second path is one that man cannot find on his own. It is the path of faith. On this path God Himself reaches down to put one on the path, to lead and guide along the way, and to bring one at last back to the Tree of Life. This path does not appeal to man’s natural inclinations. And it does not have the appearance of good to the natural man. It is a path that is difficult, that requires suffering and sacrifice. Above all it requires the sacrifice of one’s own sinful will and desires, subjecting them to the will and grace of Christ. It is a path not of prideful climbing up to paradise, but of kneeling in humility that one might be raised up by God. But it is a path that brings one at last to the true Paradise as one is given to eat again of the Tree of Life, and to fellowship with God forever.
This world in which we live is our place of exile. Though we build houses here, raise our children here, and make our lives here, it is not our true home. The writer to the Hebrews says of the saints:
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
Those who have been baptized into Christ and given faith are now citizens of a different homeland. And to that homeland we are always pressing. We live, therefore, in repentance; turning away from the sin that marks life in the world, and seeking the grace that marks life in the Kingdom – seeking Christ.
Our Lord has not left us to fend for ourselves on this pilgrimage home. He knows our struggles, having become a stranger and pilgrim Himself in His incarnation. He has fully suffered the pain and trauma of exile as hung upon the cross. And he has gone before us in His resurrection and ascension to prepare a place for us, so that we might be welcomed home at last and take our place among the saints around the throne of God, and eat from the Tree of Life.
And so He gives us outposts of the Heavenly homeland – places where He is present and brings the grace of heaven to us, where He even makes the Kingdom present on earth and where we find again the paradise of God. Here the flaming sword has been removed for us and we are given access again to the Tree of Life, even as we journey homeward toward it.
These outposts are the congregations where His Word is faithfully proclaimed and His Sacraments given to and enjoyed by the faithful. In these outposts, these oases, the faithful are refreshed and strengthened for the long journey home. In these places God Himself feeds His people from the Tree of Life, His own Body and Blood, in anticipation of our return at last from exile when in our true homeland we shall dine with Him eternally. +
Here’s a nice little article about a church built in Wisconsin recently and the importance of churches looking like churches and communicating the Gospel with the help of art and architecture. I don’t plan to share a lot of other blog posts here, but this is worthwhile. As Pres. Harrison says: “People need to know it can be done.”