As I sit here in the empty building we call, “the church”, I ponder all the ways that it is not “the church” at all. Sure, when I tell my girls I’m going to work I say, “I’m going to church.” But actually I am not. I’m instead going to the building that usually houses the church, at least until now.
If there is one thing the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us, its that the church is not a building. If you are missing “going to church”, I doubt very much that it is the building you miss. You miss the people, the interaction, the discipleship of you and your children. You may even miss the Costco snacks! But though we love the building we have been given by God, it is not the thing we long for. We long for the church; the assembly, the other members of the body, the family of God.
But the other thing Covid-19 tells us is that the church can still be the church though we are physically separated via the medium of technology. We can still worship together, though it might be a bit embarrassing to sing as loud as we might in each other’s physical presence. We can still study the Word together, as many have in our community groups are doing. We can still pray together in our regular prayer times. And this Friday, we will even attempt to take communion together, though we are physically separated.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe that such a gathering of the church should ever be preferred to being physically together. We are meant to breathe the same air, join in grand chorus, shake hands, hug, cry and laugh with each other. You can’t greet one another with a holy kiss (Rom 16:16), or a hearty embrace, via Zoom or Streaming. But for the time being, we can still gather in an imperfect way to lift our hearts to our perfect God.
Finally, the church can still be the church in the way we serve one another and others. I have heard of Rock members sharing supplies, calling on the Elderly and the lonely, sharing grace with an Uber driver, praying for their neighbor’s families (at the neighbor’s request) and more. There is even one of our number who is sharing his income with a co-worker who has been laid off. We may be isolated, but we are not impotent. The Spirit of God still works through each of us and all of us. We can still invite people to church by forwarding to them your Zoom log-in. We can still have a cup of coffee together over Skype or Facetime. We can still mow each other’s yards or do some raking for a family in need. Be creative, because God is.
In the end, we don’t know exactly when we will be able to gather all together again. Until the state lifts it’s “Stay at Home” order, we cannot, in good conscience, even begin to think about gathering, though we want to so badly. But until then, let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
So, I hope to see you Friday at 7 PM or Easter Sunday at 10:30. For though it is not perfect, it is sweet to gather together as the people of God in the name of the resurrected One to worship our Abba God.
Grace and peace,