What is church? I asked the kids…They said “Where people come together to talk about God” “a place to pray” “where there are nummy snacks””yeah like communion” ….I feel like that’s it in a nutshell!
Church is a gathering…
think about that, it is people coming together in Christ’s name, we all know that church is going to look radically different in 20yrs from today–we can all feel the change on the horizon and
…(feel the fear tingle up and down your spine) No one yet knows what its changing to! Ask 20 people and they will give you 20 different answers about where “mainline” church is going…
However Lectionary clues us into some things today
1. Church is a gathering….any gather, anywhere, anytime, anyhow in Christ’s name. It is so NOT about the numbers. It is about getting together
2. Church is owing Love: AND NOTHING ELSE. So many people are worried about what church owes them and what people owe church “well they SHOULD be going to church” …”well if they come they should give money” “if they come they should be willing to work” so many debts are put mistakenly put on each other, when in truth that is another human way of reckoning, another way of keeping track of numbers, another way of keeping debts. We do NOT owe each other anything, except love!
3. Church is Listening: truly hearing and understanding each other is a direct act of the Holy Spirit. Note that what we need to do if someone does something wrong, is to get them to “hear” what they’ve done. (No apologies, payback are apparently necessary, altho they may follow). Just listening. And if they can’t hear what you have, gather some others to witness (I think in a loving way where multiple people state their worry, as opposed to a mob castigating someone for their crime) to help the message to be heard…
4. Witnessing: Then there are the witnesses to the Word–those talking together and starting to build that agreement–Presbyterians have a phrase “the Holy Spirit works through consensus”–this consensus is built by true listening….and when we hear each other and can build together.
That’s it, church, a gathering where we witness, listen and love one another without reckoning, numbering or indebtedness……….
Those are the elements that stay the same, even as the structure of church changes….