As I was reflecting on what to write for this month’s newsletter, in light of all the events of the past few weeks, the first verse of a song that I and many of us learned as children kept running through my mind.
The church is not a building.
The church is not a steeple.
The church is not a resting place.
The church is a people.
These words seem particularly fitting to me right now when we, and so many other congregations, around our nation and the world, are unable to meet together and worship together in our buildings and other places of worship.
It is important for us to remember that we do not cease to be the church because we are not, for a time, able to physically come together in worship. While buildings and meeting places for worship are important, THEY are not the church. The church is each of YOU, wherever you are.
The REAL church is the way you witness to your faith in Jesus Christ through your words, your service to others, your love of neighbor and enemy, your prayers, and in the many other ways you live your faith each day.
Each Sunday at the end of the service we say together:
In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go forth into the world to fulfill our calling to live as the people of God, the Body of Christ.
It’s my perception that these words have never been more meaningful than they are now.
We do not know how long the physical distancing needed to combat this pandemic will last. But it will eventually come to an end once the crisis has passed and the CDC and our governor say that it is safe to resume our normal interactions. Then we will be able to gather together physically and worship in our sanctuary once more. I long to do this as much as you do. But when we are able once again to physically worship together, I hope we will not forget the lessons that we learned during this crisis about what it truly means to be the church in the world.
I want to close with the words the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Christians at Ephesus.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches God may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)