Sunday's a great day to talk about church!
I have been sharing with you on Wednesdays about Spiritual Disciplines which are mostly individual practices. But the Christian is not a lone ranger. Each follower of Christ is part of a worldwide body of believers called the Church. For reasons of time and space, we cannot all worship together on Sunday mornings, but we belong to each other just the same because we are in Christ. We are His bride. His blood has covered the sins of every soul who sits in a pew or walks to the front to take communion in remembrance of Him. Being part of the Church is a profound blessing. Most places you might go in the world, you will be able to find fellow believers and have an automatic, familial connection with them in Christ. Stop for a moment and savor that wonderful truth.
Our pastor at our new congregation during the new members' class yesterday asked us a couple of questions:
- What do you think of when you hear the word church?
- Name a person who you really associate with church and why.
The answers fell into themes. Church made folks think of buildings, people, the body, the bride of Christ, and family. And everyone had stories of parents, grandparents, pastors, or Sunday School teachers who took them to church and/or who God used to give them a foundation in the faith, even if they didn't believe until much later.
As a mother, the church is more important to me than in used to be. Parents are relentlessly bombarded with advice and reports about what is the best way to raise children. We want our kids to grow up in the faith and it can start to feel like it's all up to us. If we fail, we've failed big. After all, it's their souls that are at stake! Enter, the church.
In Scripture, the Church is spoken of as a body with many parts that need to work together and are dependent on one another. In my local congregation, there are men and women who know the Word and will model and share the Gospel with my kids. They need that; I need that! They need to hear testimony of God's goodness, might, power and mercy from us at home AND from Sunday School teachers, the pulpit, during coffee hour, at special events, etc. This will grow their sense of wonder at the expanse of God's kingdom in our town and throughout the world. You know, rubbing shoulders with fellow believers on Sunday mornings does the same for me too!
The answers that people gave to the pastor's questions yesterday expressed (consistent with Scripture) that church is far more than a building where we gather. The church is the people gathered under that roof, who have been redeemed by God and called His children - a family! The church is (as my friend Linda said) the expression of God's kingdom on earth - a testimony to the world of who God is and what He does! The church is a place where people can love and serve and be loved and be served, as each person finds his or her place - a body!
Will you find your way to a pew this morning? Maybe you live on the other side of the world and you already have! Look around you, read our bulletin, engage in the worship (even if it's not exactly how you'd put it together) and purpose in your heart to connect. You will not find perfection in those pews or in the pulpit, no matter how nice people look in their Sunday dress. But you will find echoes of redemption, stories of salvation, messages of hope. Don't sit on the sidelines; get in and get dirty! You need the church, and the church needs you, the Bible tells me so.
Have a great Sunday!
(There is so much to be said about the church. Today I just wanted to share what was on my heart, to encourage you to engage with your local congregation and watch the Lord work there. Also, I didn't have time to put together lots of Scripture references for this, so I encourage you to explore what the Bible says about church!)