It’s not about the building…
This morning I went to church. On my couch. The flippant, sarcastic, class-clown side of my personality wants to call it:
The Fifth-Sunday Singing Service at The First Church of St. Social Isolation.
The trusted-Jesus-in-my-childhood side of me knows that it is, in truth:
The Church Is Not About The Building.
My childhood church had a motto that was printed on our bulletins. It read, “Enter to Worship—Depart to Serve”. That is ringing more true to me in these days of social distancing, self-imposed isolation, safer-at-home. Thanks to the Interwebz, we can still participate in worship, work from home, see about our friends and family. We can stay fairly well connected.
We can donate to causes, including the local church, that are working to provide necessary resources to our neighbors in need. We can share music, humor, insight, and even our own original thoughts, in an effort to keep our loved ones engaged, lifted up, and encouraged in the days of COVID-19. We can drop non-perishable necessities off onto our neighbors’ porches. We can call, text, Zoom/FaceTime/Messenger Chat to stay connected. I think that all of these efforts are “church”.
I completed an extended unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in 2012. The ages of my peer group ranged from mid-40s to late 60s. The eldest member of our group was participating at the recommendation of a ministry of his church, a well-established, well-heeled, and well-respected faith community here in Knoxville. Toward the end of our time together, Bob remarked that he was “seeing more church happen inside the walls of the hospital” than he had ever seen at “church”.
Which illustrates the point, once again, that it’s not about the building.
Church is loving our neighbor, whoever they are, wherever they are, however we can, without trying to judge whether or not they are worthy. When we are unable to gather face-to-face, church can still happen. Loving our neighbor from a distance is still love. Prayers, financial support offered online, front-porch drop-offs, whatever we can do…we can still love our neighbor.
We can be the church.
We ARE the church.