Tuesday, April 2, 2013 | By: Jake

Why is This Place So Empty?

After getting some food, we began heading over to the other side of Amsterdam over to the Basilica of St. Nicholas. However, on the way, we passed by a part of the Red Light District. Having recently become a part of the End It Movement, and having recently read Rob Bell's Sex God, the Red Light District seemed all too familiar.

X-Rated Films...Sex Shop...Gay Movie Watch...XXX...

The signs were everywhere, and I'm not really sure why I thought that the Red Light District would be "clean", but I assure you...it's not the case...shabby warehouses, broken off paint, cracked paths, scratched windows, torn-off doors...

But alas, we arrived at the Basilica of St. Nicholas, a fairly large church and also fairly close to to the Red Light District. I used to see churches like that as having somewhat of a "morbid holiness"...this kind of darkness to it that helped me connect with Christ and my spirituality...the candles, the deeply moving hymns...much like what the Tenebrae Service was.

But when I walked into the Basilica, what once would have came off as that "morbid holiness" seemed more like a dead faith. Huge pillars made the place seem mysterious, but not in a spiritual sense. The large and fear-provoking organ cast down a shadow. This dark gloom loomed over the church...the deep marble, having no choir to bring it alive, only added to this feeling of intimidation.

I was upset, frustrated, confused. How can we call this the Church? This doesn't seem warm and inviting, but dark and foreboding. And if I, a believer of Christ, even feel intimidated, how then shall the non-believers feel? How can the sinners not feel ashamed, not feel guilty, not feel worthy to walk in...no wonder we have this expression of getting "struck by lightning" if we walk into a Church as a sinner.

How would the prostitutes feel? Shouldn't this church have rehabilitation programs? Classes to bring people closer to Christ, not large and dark architecture to keep them away. It's time such as these when I want nothing more than to shout out, "God, where are You in all of this?...Why is this place so empty?" But I can't speak falsely...I know He's there.

God isn't missing...the people of God are missing...we are missing, for is not a Church with no believers just a building? God needs His believers, the people that fight for justice, the people that will fight for Him. Hearing of the "sanctity" of the place made me bitter and distressed. I wasn't sure what to think...

All I could do was pray.


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