Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am the Church! You are the Church! We are the Church together!
“Church” has looked a little different this past year, and we are very thankful to begin the return to “normal”, but there are a few things that will never be quite the same. For many of us, absence has absolutely made the heart grow fonder when it comes to certain aspects of church/worship/Christian fellowship that we have been very thankful to experience once again. I fear that many have fallen out of the rhythm that included regular participation in worship. We long for the days when our entire Immanuel family is regularly gathering!
This pandemic has been an excellent opportunity to reflect on what it really means to be the church. A resource that has been helpful in this reflection is the explanation of the Third Article of the Creed.
Question #202 in Luther’s Small Catechism (2017 edition) asks What is the Church? It is the body of Christ–that is, all people whom the Spirit, by the Means of Grace, has gathered to Christ in faith throughout the world (John 10:16, 1 Corinthians 12:27, Matthew 18:20, Revelation 5:9).
I heard comments during lock-down about church being “taken away”, but I’m not sure that these remarks came from a proper understanding of what “Church” really is. Things certainly changed (and not all for the better), but sickness and governmental policy certainly cannot stop the Holy Spirit from gathering people to Christ!!
Another question in this section of our Catechism asks What are some of the privileges and responsibilities of members of the Church?
- We should regularly receive the Word and Sacraments within the community of believers (John 8:31-32, John 15:5, Colossians 3:16).
- We should belong to congregations that confess and teach the pure Word of God (Acts 17:11, 2 Corinthians 6:14, 2 Timothy 4:3-4).
- We should beware of and avoid false teachings, false teachers, and organizations that promote false teaching. (Matthew 7:15-16, Galatians 1:8, Romans 16:17-18, 1 John 4:1)
- We should tell others about Jesus, participate in works of mercy and service, and support the ministry of the church with prayer and financial gifts (John 12:21, Luke 10:2, Galatians 6:6).
Some of these items are things that our congregational staff and leadership provide for our members, but most of what is described here is what we as the Church (the Body of Christ) do as we commit to faithful living!
As we return to “normal” the opportunities for works of mercy and service are growing! We are looking for more ushers, greeters, tech helpers, and musicians to assist with worship services. We are looking for adults to pour into some of God’s children through youth activities and Vacation Bible School. We are looking for leaders and participants to build up Bible study opportunities. Most of all, we are looking for families who are recommitting to regular worship attendance so that we can be encouraging one another, and holding each other accountable in a world where so many things would tear us away from God and His will for our lives.
There may be some ministries still on “pause” that you’re passionate about. If so, let us know and work together to get these things going! There may be obstacles or concerns that have not been addressed for your family. If so please contact us! We value your input!
Your Sister in Christ,
Tara Darling, DCE