As I wrote my pastor’s article for May’s newsletter the headlines were being filled with the news that the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was going up in flames. Wanting to know more than just what my I-phone newsbrief gave me I turned on the TV. The only channel with immediate coverage was not surprisingly CNN. Unfortunately, CNN over the years has fallen out of favor with me as a news source because of its constant and blatant bias to the left. While it did give me information about the current situation of the fire at Notre Dame what really caught my attention was their attempts to justify this church fire as a significant news story. They expounded Notre Dame’s architecture, its central location in Paris, its sight seeing tourist significance, and finally almost apologetically its role as a Christian house of worship.
While this coverage irritated me because it reminded me that a significant portion of our media want to eradicate religion’s significance in our modern world, it also reminded me of a favorite church song simply entitled “The Church Song.” We’ve sung it at church occasionally, you might recognize it by its refrain “We Are The Church.” I love the verse that says, “The church is not a building, committee, or a board it’ s not a corporation for the business of our Lord.”
Its hard to fathom at first the concept that a church is not a building, its not made out of sticks and stones or clay. However, once a believer understands the people of faith are “the church” rather than the physical structure, its not only freeing, its inspiring! The cathedral of Notre Dame may be gone but the church is not.
In April our outreach benevolence was for Voice of the Martyrs, to help support brothers and sisters in the faith around the world who suffer persecution on what in many cases, is a daily basis. Our benevolence for May will go to support missionaries in China who continue to minister to an ever increasing Christian community but request we not name them or the area of China in which they work because China’s government has a $1,500 reward for anyone turning in a Christian missionary to the government. Many of these Christian communities under siege have no church building to meet in, they have no youth program to speak of and no music program to boast of. So what keeps these people going? What attracts seekers to these Christian communities under fire?
Most of the people active in these churches testify that it’s the love of God in Christ Jesus, lived out and shared amongst these dedicated believers, that keeps them “in church.” I hope the idea of “loving God and loving others” is what comes to mind when folks ask us why we’re part of Greenford Lutheran. Youth scholarships are nice, choir music can be soothing and inspiring, and buildings can be beautiful but only God’s love in Jesus Christ can bring total forgiveness, spiritual healing, and eternal salvation. As long as God’s love is being shared and witnessed to in the lives of believers the church will go on, whether or not its structure burns or doors close.
This is good news and bad news. The obvious good news is that “the church” can be anywhere believers are, can go anywhere believers are willing to live out the gospel. The church can be alive and well even if a building burns down. The bad news is that too many believers put on their “church clothes,” go “to church,” and act like “church folk” for an hour or two on Sunday inside a “church building” and then go home and stash away any behavior or item that might alert others to their spiritual allegiance. It’s one of the reasons each week we end our worship with a reminder “church” isn’t over when we say “Go in peace serve the Lord”
See you in Church, ooops strike that ....See You AS Church!