Thursday, March 04, 2010

Abandoning Mars Hill: Photo Essay From the Middle of Nowhere

There are several photos I have posted that I almost have to say
"This is where I always spirit." Pics of places, people, memories....or mindsets.

Such would include:

But today's remind me of where I always am...
are shot about as far from overeseas as one can get.
In fact, as far from anywhere as you might ever get:

The point being that wherever on earth I am (and some claim I am never there), bottom line...

I am at Mars Hill.

Not Mars, as many would guess:

Mars Hill.

I just have to live there.

I love the prophetic image of Mars Hill (Aeropagus in Athens)in the Book of Acts, the definitive "model" or picture for church engaging culture...

I am the church and culture guy.

I just want the twain to meet.

One day, circa 1989, after church, some relatives and I toured the ruins of Mars Hill..

The ironically named Mars Hill Church, that is. In the middle of the middle of nowhere (rural Van Buren County, Iowa), the remains remain of this long-abandoned
meeting house:

As a seminary student, my aunt figured I would be interested.

I was.

But I was not prepared for why.
Or how this scene would hit me.

However the church chose to close,
what I am about to say is no judgement on that. I don't think there were homes, or human life, for no surprise it folded.

The whole place and experience for me was a parable, though, of THE church abandoning Mars Hill.

In fact, there is a culture even in this church's neighborhood...somewhere.
Aeropagus West.
And we are always called to be dooorkeepers; ushers, for the church on Mars Hill:

Ironies abound, of course, as since these photos, prominent megachurches have arisen by the Mars Hill name.

Here's a photo looking out through a shattered glass window of the church into the graveyard, it was a chilling scene, though I couldn't articulate why it chilled me. Is this what the pastor saw as he looked around while preaching?

From sublime to ridiculous...I admit the whole adventure was somewhat bittersweet and funny, but this pic...just funny:

Rural Iowa is not urban Athens.
What does Iowa have to do with Jerusalem?

Nothing less than absolutely everything if the church is in the world.
And my inner reality and the real estate of my soul is bankrupt until I remember I am always on Mars Hill.

The church is a city, a city on a hill...and the name of that hill is always Mars.
I prefer, at times, to abandon the hubbub and heathens and the hill altogether,
to find someplace as quiet as....well, the ruins of Mars Hill.

But even (especially?) there, I am reminded of where I always live.

UPDATE 2012: Here  below is a website for the church (!!).
Amazing info on it's history, especially re: it being a station on the underground railroad...and much later, site of satanic rituals.  In 2007, it was burned down as a goof by a kid.  It has been restored   (video here)and has annual services, hosts weddings and funerals...overseen by a church board. See this.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!