An Old Building’s Revival


When The Bride And Groom Arrives, There Is Life!


The Rotunda, University of Pennsylvania campus, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaThe Rotunda on the campus of University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania looked old. Once a magnificent edifice it had not been used in years, showing its age with paint chips falling everywhere, windows cracked, light bulbs in its gorgeous lamps and chandeliers blown, lifeless, and my son chose this place to hold his wedding?  It took vision.

After getting proper paperwork through city hall, he received approval for its use for one day.  Now the challenge: how to revive an old building, to give it back its life, its glory?  Mopping forty buckets of water with Murphy’s Soap brought the color of the flooring back to life.  Paint chips were swept up and thrown away. Four spotlights aimed in the dome and three halogen lights in the arched windows produced a new ambience after sunset.  Strung paper origami cranes and butterflies flew above the floor on several strings. Circular tables with umbrellas with strung lights and more cranes enhanced the reception area.  The historic chandelier that once hung as the centerpiece of this building now rested in the center of the floor, emitting a refreshment of candles and incense.

I can only imagine the glory days of this place, those who graced its pews, those who spoke from its podium, what stirring messages and eloquent speeches that must have been delivered here.

When the day arrived for the wedding, the sun shown through the arched windows directly on where the wedding couple sat with their guests.  With the setting of the sun came a completely different setting with offset lighting bringing a cozy evening romantic atmosphere as the reception progressed.  Two students sat outside, sketchpads in hand, drawing a building they had never seen alive at night in a community teeming with life.

The day after the wedding the decorations were torn down.  A tear formed in the corner of my eye when I turned for one last look at the place that had been so transformed for a special event, now laid bare; it looked old again.  You could almost hear it groan in desperation, sighing, again losing hope.

It took a bride and a groom, the newness of a wedding, to bring the Rotunda back to life.  So it is with many churches, buildings that is, that have grown old with age, now labeled historical, hoping for revival or better days.  Church is not about the edifice; its about the Bride and the Groom, their relationship, the Bride, the Body of Christ, and the Groom, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is preparing as the Groom to return for His Bride, for a wedding reception or banquet that has been recorded in the Bible and taught throughout the centuries.  Just like my son who barked orders of things that needed to be done, having the vision for the completed project and ceremony, Jesus is getting things in order for His return for the banquet of the ages.  I guess we, as the Church, the Bride, need only to be obedient to what He is instructing through His Holy Spirit to prepare the Bride for its groom.  Sometimes all that urban renewal needs is an occupancy.