Our church, St. James’ Episcopal in Mesilla Park, is located just across South Main Street from the heavily trafficked north-south BNSF Railway.
Trains passing through this part of town and blasting their horns have always interrupted church services — sometimes funerals — at totally inappropriate times because of the numerous street crossings in the neighborhood. Two long horn blasts, a short and a long required for every road crossing. And then on top of that, the BNSF recently increased speeds of its trains through the Las Cruces area, and if you’re near a 50-car train with three locomotives moving at 45 miles per hour, you can feel the rumbling through the ground.
Our church, built in 1911, is an historic structure that at its age, is getting pretty fragile. Over the years, cracks in the interior and exterior walls have developed, but the building is still in basically sound condition. It is a gem of traditional gothic architecture required by the Episcopal Church of all its churches built during that time period in the United States.
Still, when trains have rumbled through the neighborhood in the last few years with the faster BNSF speed limits, I have witnessed small chunks of plaster falling from interior walls and arches.
Which brings me to this. At our services, we do three Bible readings, one often from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament and one from the Gospel. In between the first and second readings, we join together in reciting a Psalm.
A couple of weeks ago at our church service, the Psalm appointed for the day was Psalm 103. At the 33rd verse, the Psalm read:
“He looks at the earth and it trembles.”
Our reader, Jennifer, had impeccable timing that day.
At the moment she led us through those words, the BNSF 8:16 to El Paso rumbled through Mesilla Park and our historic church and those attending the service experienced mighty “trembles” and a shaking building as the train rolled through.
If you question your faith, then maybe a moment like this will make you think about it a little more.