What does it mean to be “Church” in this time? For two millennia, when you talked about Church, the usual assumption was that it was about an in-person gathering of people. In fact, when you read the word “Church” in the New Testament, it usually is a translation of the Greek word, “ekklesia,” whose primary meaning is “gathering.” The Church was the group of people who gathered in Christ’s name.
But for many months this year, we have not been the people physically gathering in Christ’s name. But we have still been doing what we have been doing in Christ’s name. We have been gathering virtually to pray and worship. Even distanced in this way we have had moments of great joy as we have celebrated new babies and welcomed new members. We have been staying home from our sanctuary primarily for the reason which we do everything else, to show love for one another as Christ loved us. And we, as a church, will continue to do what we do out of love for each other. None of us have ever experienced something like this, so it will continue to be difficult to know precisely what we should be doing and when.
On some of the social networks with which Pastor Vickie and I are connected, we hear stories. We have seen stories of churches that are having troubles now because there are individuals who are allowing their personal sense of pain and loss to cause them to lash out. So here is what I would like to say to you all today. We will get back to being the “ekklesia,” the people who physically gather to worship and serve the Lord Jesus. Let us be full of patience and hope as we expect that. God is in the midst of us as we worship, whether we worship in our homes, or here. There is a bond that exists between us all. When one of us suffers, the community is there with support and prayer. When one of us rejoices, the community is there, each of us adding our laughter and congratulations. That is bond that Jesus establishes between us. And so we do not look at this pandemic and this trial for what it is doing to us as individuals. I don’t look at this time of struggle in terms of what I have lost, or how it makes me feel badly. I choose to look at it also in terms of how it is affecting others. I encourage you to remain as you have been in years past, and this year as well, a people who hold each other in your hearts. We remain strong in the face of this trial. We remain united in the face of tensions. Our unity and our perseverance is a sign that the Lord is definitely with us. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
With hope and faith, Pastor Ted