This week’s picture shows the sanctuary at our church as I see it each Sunday morning (and the rest of the week). The chairs are nicely arranged, the hall is clean and there is even appropriate social distancing of the chairs. Yet there are no smiling faces to greet me. Imagine how much fun it is to preach a sermon to all those empty chairs! Welcome to the world of COVID-19.
Some might say that the church is closed, or shut down or even gone. But that would be incorrect! For the church is not simply what is done within the walls of our building. The Church proper is composed of all the people who faithfully follow Jesus. The Church is the people, and the Church Building just happens to be where they meet for worship, fellowship and ministry. Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Though Jesus trained as a carpenter, he was not speaking about constructing a building. He was speaking about the fellowship of believers who would love Him and follow Him as Lord and Saviour.
So if the church is not the building where we used to gather for worship, where is the church? Is it gone? Not in the least! The church is everywhere a Spirit filled, Bible believing, Jesus loving Christian can be found. So that means the Church is at the grocery store. The Church is at the coffee shop. The Church is queued up waiting to enter the bank. The Church is in the homes of our community. It is in the senior centers and the hospital. The Church is anywhere there is a Christian.
So COVID-19 has not closed the Church, only our buildings. The Church is alive and doing well, still loving Jesus and loving the people of the community. The Church is among us, often wearing a mask, social distancing, caring for the community the best way it knows how.
Sure, believers want to gather and worship together and eat at potlucks and do projects together that help the community, but for now we wait, and pray and love our neighbours until the doors are opened to our building. I do not see the Church as I preach each Sunday but I know they are there, watching online, worshipping Jesus and growing in their love for God and others. Yes, the Church is doing okay – at least from my perspective!
– Pastor Gary