As I was praying the other day the figure of speech "a spacious place" came to mind. The idea of "the spacious place" is of course a recurring theme in the psalms (see: Psalm 18, 31 and 118), but generally as God's response to a desperate cry for deliverance. The dream is of somewhere pleasant and safe far away from enemies. We have the same idea in our language when we talk about taking a vacation (from the Latin root word for empty/vacant). In our highly stressed, cluttered lives, we long for a little bit of time to be filled with emptiness. But the biblical idea of the spacious place is more positive than that, and implies a blessing from God - a glorious idyll where God's kingdom rule brings harmony.
Solar House is certainly both empty and spacious, but I also believe it can be God's "spacious place" for us. But this is not so much in the manner of escape from the stresses and strains of our lives. In this case the spacious place beckons us to come fill it. Its large expanse of floor area is pregnant with potential. It is light, bright and crying out to be filled with life and laughter.
The day that we spent at Solar House with a group of leaders is still reverberating around my mind. Actually being in the building and using it for a purpose similar to what we envisage in the future, was an act so charged with prophetic anticipation that it burst open the floodgates of vision. The room rang with tunes of what God might do through us:
Wide open entrances inviting the community into a warm bright coffee foyer, with a welcome hospitality team there every day of the week.
An accessible centre for conferences, community groups, and any number of ministries, with no dark dank back halls.
New networks of support for families, youth, kids, and those in recovery.
The only major public building in the vicinity creating, not only a new church for the outsider, but what will almost certainly feel like a new church for us as well.
Professional standards of accommodation for our hard-pressed staff.
The stunning thought is that perhaps what we can build at Solar House is an entirely new model for church in the 21st century. Bright, modern, open and welcoming. A spacious place.