What is Church?

On the eve of our first church service with the little group that lives in Elkhart, I wonder…

What is church?

If you think I’m about to write a blog minimizing organized church, you are so wrong.  But I am about to suggest that church is so much more than organized church, so much more than benches and Sunday school rooms and predictable routines.  (Again, just to make it clear, I love benches and Sunday school rooms, and predictable routines!)

But church is also…

  • around the table at our Elkhart Christmas at Laurel Street, eating a meal prepared by our talented hostesses, shared a generous material blessing that got passed around the table to all of us by a person who shall remain unnamed, talking about the future and how we should proceed. IMG_1612
  • at the counter at Baker’s Nook this morning, my friend Sarah and I hashing out the problems of a young person in our lives, as I ordered and ate Breakfast Number 2 and she packaged pastries for customers and made those customers laugh. IMG_1707
  • my neighbor Mary telling me “God knows your story,” no matter where she is, and fearlessly telling hospital staff that God is not only in control, but in the MRI machine with her. IMG_1646
  • the attempts of these cuties to understand how God knows us and heals us like the world’s best heart surgeon. IMG_1702
  • we, the feeble second sopranos, practicing “Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End”, and still not always getting it right.  IMG_1698

According to Jesus, church just takes two people gathered in his name.  This happens, for me, sometimes at the Baker’s Nook, sometimes on my couch at Laurel Street (uh-hem: their couch on Laurel Street), sometimes in my patient’s room as they shed tears before heart surgery, sometimes in the locker room at work, as I and another co-worker wonder how people without God can survive, sometimes in the briefest meeting with someone by the river.

I never intend to stop attending organized church.  There’s something thrilling about a huge body of believers coming together as one from Sunday to Sunday.

But I hope to not miss the many moments of church in between.

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