If there’s one thing I am known for, among those who have more than a passing knowledge of me, it is that I am a tremendous Lego fan. I’ve been an enthusiast since I was eight years old, carefully guarding my meagre bucket of bricks from the careless fingers of family and friends, and constructing a wide variety of buildings, vehicles, and robots.
I still have those same bricks. And many, MANY more.
They continue to appeal to me on so many levels. Lego lasts a long time and can be built into so many things. Barely a day goes by where I don’t see images online of incredible things made from Lego that are so astonishing and unexpected that you must look really close to even realize they are indeed made from little plastic bricks.
I could go on and on about the value of Lego as entertainment, a teaching tool, decoration, a source of creativity and problem-solving skills, and even as a theological metaphor. But for this article, the thing that springs most to mind is how it serves as a good ecclesiastical metaphor.
Allow me to explain.
A few years ago I built a church out of Lego to use in my Lego Christmas Village, which I display in my home every holiday season. It was a fine-looking church, with lots of detail both inside and out. It was primarily white and grey, with a black roof covered in white “snow”. I loved it. I placed a little mini-figure of myself outside the door, welcoming people in for a service.
Last year I destroyed it.
I had to. I needed the parts. Specifically, at the time, I needed the parts to build three more churches (replicas of the three church buildings in my own parish of Burin). The parts I didn’t use on the new churches were tossed into the bins, or else used to help build other things. The three churches I built now sit near the back pews of their respective buildings and are often admired by visitors to our worship. And there they shall remain…
… Until I need the parts.
It is one of the deepest failures of the church that we cling onto all that we have built, fearful to lose any piece. We desperately try to “super-glue” the bricks together, replace any piece that falls off, and often resent any bricks used for purposes other than making that first construction stronger.
For some reason we think that the “holiness” of the church lies more in what is made than in the act of making.
And so, the Church (capital C) struggles, never managing to build anything new because all the pieces are already being used. We never seem to accept that sometimes you must take apart the old, use the pieces you can, and see what wondrous new thing can be made!
Now some of you, I’m sure, think I’m advocating for the wholesale tearing down of church buildings. I’m not. What I am saying is that what could be should never be sacrificed for what has been. Often all that is needed in what we might build is a few pieces of what we’re desperately trying to hold together.
Who knows what we could make, extending off that chief cornerstone, if we’re just willing to take something apart first?