Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Alfie Doolittle got it wrong

We've been moving at Spirit of Joy. As in relocating. We're settling in to our summer home away from the mold of our Lakeville building. It's made me keenly aware of the difference between going to church and being the church.

When you "go to church," you've decided that church is a place. It's a location, an edifice, a building, a destination. Like going to the grocery or to the hospital. "Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and look at all the people." I bet you just put your hands together and acted it out.

Alfie's got to be there in the morning. But it's just to receive a service he isn't really sure he even wants.

Trouble is, when you're moving out of your building because it's making people sick, you realize that buildings only define us at our peril. Buildings express the intentions, the theology, the self-understanding of the communities who build them. Form doesn't just follow function, it expresses identity.

Still, we know which came first. And it wasn't the building. Church is something we are, something we do, not somewhere we go. Church isn't a noun in the end. In the New Testament, the word is ekklesia, from a verb that means "called out."

That's what I'm becoming aware of. We've been called out together into the community, out into the neighborhood, outside our walls and beyond our parking lot into the streets. As church, we're not a location, not a destination, but a people sent on a mission. But never alone, always at least two by two.

Thanks be to God!

Blessings and Peace,