Last weekend, I observed something pretty profound. One of our good Trinity folks walked into the narthex between services. She had received some troubling health news in the prior week. She was no more than 10 to 15 feet into the narthex when she was surrounded by 5-6 concerned people. There were hugs…there were questions…there was conversation…I couldn’t say for sure but I think there might even have been some tears.
And the group, with this person at the center, walked together into the sanctuary for worship.
And I thought to myself, “this is what church does.”
One of the questions that I am sometimes asked as a pastor is “What is this for? Why do we do this every week? Why do we gather like this?” My answer is simple: We have to. The only way to be together is to actually be together.
I have this theory: It is possible to be a believer by yourself. But it’s impossible to be a Christian by yourself.
Christianity, by definition, is a communal thing. Belief can be individual. I can make a decision for myself that something is true. But to live that out…to express it…to practice it…that is a community thing. So when people sometimes tell me that they don’t need worship, that it’s “just between me and God,” I grimace just a little bit. Because in my experience I haven’t found that to be possible. Christianity requires others in order to be practiced.
Jesus said: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20) That doesn’t mean that if you’re by yourself, Jesus isn’t present with you. But Jesus in this text is saying that he is always present in Christian community…when the believers gather together.
Every week at Trinity, we gather together to be refreshed by Word and sacrament, to be equipped, to grow in their faith and to be sent back into the world. We have friends here. We talk, we laugh and we surround each other with love and grace. And when one hurts, we care for them. This is what church does.
And being a part of a much larger family of faith, we also know that if we’re not here in town, we can go to another church somewhere else and receive the same hospitality, welcome and experience God’s love.
When we gather, we experience the Holy. It’s what we do.
See you at worship!