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The Theatiner church is really big and impressive, just like so many really big old churches in Europe.

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It’s old, it has character and it is impressive inside, just like all the really big old churches in Europe.

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And it’s empty, just like all the really big old churches in Europe.  As I kept coming across big old empty churches in Europe, I wondered, how long will this remain?  How long until the church or the state no longer wants to pay for the upkeep of what is essentially a museum that few people step foot in?  And then what?  These get to essential questions about church for me.  What do we think of as the “church?”  Is it the building?  What happens when the community disappears?  What is left beyond are some nice looking buildings with impressive art and stone work?

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Where some see despair, I see opportunity.  Opportunity for the church, the real church, to step up.  To define itself not in terms of worldly wealth, impressive structures and buildings and all the pomp and circumstance of empires, but rather in terms of making disciples, sharing grace and forgiveness, love and peace, and making an impact in many lives and in creation.  It’s not about going back to the time of Christ.  It’s about being Christ in our world today.