For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
– Matthew 18:20 –
It’s been awhile since we’ve been in the church building. It’s been months since we’ve worshipped in the sanctuary, prepared meals in the kitchen, learned in the education wing, and shared conversation in our gathering space. Because it’s been awhile, you may or may not remember that this verse from the 18th chapter of Matthew is written in beautiful calligraphy on the north wall of our gathering space. It’s presence in this space of fellowship is a statement to what happens when we gather: God is there.
So, what does that mean when we’re not able to gather? Does it mean that we’re not able to worship and learn with God present if we’re not together? By no means! Does it mean that fellowship can’t happen because we are alone? By no means! Does it mean that the church ceases to exist when the doors to the building are locked and the space is empty? By no means! Because even when our gatherings are small (even when they’re gatherings of one), we are the church, together and apart.
We are the church: together and apart. This was the theme of our at-home VBS program this summer. The curriculum was created by Green Lake Lutheran Ministries and it reminded us that we are the church no matter where we are and no matter the chaotic cultural context we find ourselves in. Families spent a week engaging in fellowship, worship, and learning from their homes. They did this as the church, together and apart.
We are the church together and apart. This is the inspiration for and title of our 2020 stewardship appeal that will kick-off at the end of this month. Through those 2019 cottage gatherings, our congregation has discerned the importance of fellowship and outreach for the mission and ministry of our congregation. These will be our initiatives for the 2021 year.
Led by the Holy Spirit, let’s live into our identity as the Church during this unique time through fellowship and outreach as we remember that we are God’s hands, feet, and love in the world. We are the church, the body of our Lord, for the sake of the world!