“Here's the church... Here's the steeple... Open the door... and see all the people!”
As a kid I used to love singing this nursery rhyme song and doing the hand motions that go along with it. Full disclosure here, the secret to making the hand motion work eluded me for quite some time. Then one day it was an “aha” moment... “So, that's how that works!” I remember from early Sunday School days that this song and hand motion was used to help us kids see the church was the place, the building, that you went to on Sunday morning... with all the other people!
“The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is the people. I am the church! You are the church! We are the church together!” (We are the Church, United Methodist Hymnal # 558).
I remember singing this song for the first time as a young adult in worship services. In it, I was learning a different message from the nursery rhyme of my childhood. People are the church.
In the last few years, I've come to know the church is more than people; it is people gathering in the name and presence of Jesus! I think it's interesting that in the four New Testament Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), of the ten times Jesus appeared after his death and resurrection, only once was it to an individual. Nine times the risen Christ appeared to a gathering of two or more disciples.
“It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19, CEB)
As the disciples found out on that first Easter Sunday evening, something unique happens when followers of Jesus gather. The risen Jesus Christ steps into our lives as a gathering of disciples. Then Christ’s presence and peace sends us out in the life-breathing presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Click here to listen to more (April 18 sermon).
My prayer for you is that you will make a habit of gathering with other followers of Jesus to worship, to be in conversation, to be in mission, to study the Bible, to enjoy a meal, etc. My prayer for you is that you gather with other followers of Jesus as often as you can, in whatever way you can (in-person or virtually). And my prayer for you is that whenever you gather with other follows of Jesus, you will always expect Jesus to show up and change your lives in the gathering that is the church!
Your partner on the journey,