August 31- Stripes Matter: Park Well

There were a few bumps along the way, but our journey to a new parking lot at LPC is completed.  When you drive into either lot on Sunday, you’ll be first to park on a smooth new surface that drains well and looks good.  No weeds in the cracks, no faded lines as a faint reminder of where we ought to park. In fact the bright white new stripes were the finishing touch on the lot and when the cones are removed from the lot entrances early Sunday morning, there will be no question as to where we ought to park – and where we ought not to park.

I have it on good authority that there are 94 parking stalls in the main lot (I didn’t get the chapel lot count). The engineer laid them out in such a way as to provide best use of the available space and decent traffic flow in and out of the lot.  And they are wide enough to keep us from dinging each other’s paint every time we open our doors.

Yes, there is sermon illustration brewing here.  In some ways the hard surface of our culture has cracked and the weeds of moral and ethical decay seek to reclaim the land.  The lines that once denoted the boundary between right and wrong, justice and greed, wise and foolish places to park our lives, have faded and are barely visible.  It’s all too easy to ignore the faint outline of a wheelchair reminding us to save this spot for a less able person – we’re busy with places to go and dollars to earn.

In the days of Christendom, not so long ago when “everyone” was a Christian and agreed to (if not followed) the same moral and ethical code, it was the church’s job to tend to parking lot maintenance. We made sure the stripes were painted and bright, proper places designated for passenger drop-off, fire lanes and handicapped parking. We sprayed the weeds of greed and malice, injustice and exploitation, immorality and sin. Often we did not do our job well at all.

Some Christians hope that the church will once again rise to its task and see to the repair of  things; milling away the old broken surface, opening drainage ditches clogged by years of neglect, repaving and restriping – things the way they used to be.

It’s a good hope, but some of us doubt the church any longer has the cultural capital or the will to do its former job; some wonder whether it ever really was the church’s job. In the meantime we have to figure out what to do when lines are faded and convenience often trumps courtesy.

What do we do?  Whether there is a designated spot or not, we consider those less able to get to the front door and then we park a bit further back. We open our car doors carefully and don’t squeeze into that space that probably isn’t a space. We think about whether the car in front or behind will be able to get out of the lot if we park where we’re planning to park before we take our keys from the ignition, lock our doors and walk away. We keep eyes open for a harried mom or a slow-moving older person who might need our assistance. crossing the lot.

Even when the stripes are faded, we know what to do because we have the Engineer’s plans. We know what was intended.

Happy parking and see you Sunday!