For Sunday, 15 March 2020: Third Sunday of Lent
Scripture: John 1: 35-42
Grey. The day has begun grey. It’s as if creation is reflecting the mood of the society and the country: grey. Yet, people are walking their dogs, jogging down the street, going to the grocery, eating in restaurants, and a myriad of other happenings. Life has not stopped. We are simply in the grey. Living in the grey is challenging to be sure, but it is also an opportunity.
This time we are in is an opportunity to rethink “community” and the value it holds for us. It is very strange to be at the church building this morning. When I arrived, four others were here but now, it’s only me. This is Sunday. I’m not sure what to make of all this. The building is supposed to be full of life and energy; it’s still. The only sound I’m hearing is coming from the heating system. Now the train whistle sounds. This building we call “church” stands here today as a church, but it is not the church.
We call some buildings “church.” Yet, what makes it “church”? Is it architecture? Name? Design? It’s people who are “church” not the building. It might be better to say, “First Church meets in that building” rather than “That building is First Church.” The old Sunday School song is correct “I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together.” Together you and I are the Church. So, what makes us church? What makes people the church? Is it programs? Worship? Ministries? We are church because we are bound together in the love of Jesus. Worship, ministries, and programs all emerge from God’s love for us in Jesus, and our love for God in return. Our worship, our ministries, and our programs are all expressions of God’s love in Jesus Christ being shared. As it has been shared with us, so we hope to share God’s love with others. To me, the church at its’ best is a place of sharing God’s love unconditionally. Buildings don’t and can’t share God’s love in Jesus, but people can. We are the church!
The days ahead are uncertain. However, what is not uncertain is the invitation to discipleship. Our invitation is simple, it’s the same invitation Jesus offered his first disciples. “Come and see” (John 1:39 NRSV). What is it we are to see? In the text of John 1, they see where Jesus was staying. I take that to suggest we are to live our faith. Faith is to be our dwelling place. We are church when as a community we live out our faith, support one another when we are struggling with our faith, and we offer care to each other and our community. To me, that’s what church is at its’ best when it lives in its’ faith and shares it with the neighborhood.
We all struggle to live into this vision of the church. Living into this vision doesn’t always happen or happen well. When short-comings happen, the church can become a place we all need from time to time – a place of forgiveness and healing. When God’s love is expressed in a group of people, a community – a church – lives are transformed, and the world made a better place for all of us. And it all began with a simple invitation: Come and see.
 We Are the Church © 1972, Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, Illinois.