There’s often much commotion made about the proper way to understand what “the church” is. We can speak of it in reference to the physical location, the property, and especially the building in which we gather, but that’s not the only way we use “church.” Sometimes we use it in reference to the activities that we participate in within the walls of the church building, and we can use it to refer to ourselves, the people of a specific Church. We use it also in reference to the denominational body to which we belong, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Even beyond this, we can use it to speak of the invisible church, the collection of all those who are Christian transcending all denominational and geographical lines. For example, “We, the church are going to Christ Lutheran Church to go to church service, because it is a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, to be a part of the invisible Church. “ Though it’s an (almost) entirely ridiculous example, it does illustrate a point for us: when we’re speaking of “church,” there are a whole lot of different things we can mean.If we start attaching words like “being” and “doing,” we dive more deeply into the question of the identity of the church, that is, who we are as a corporate body. There are a multitude of ways that we “be” and “do” church, and though many of them happen within the walls of our church building, a good number happen outside as well.
One of the primary ways that we “be church” inside the walls of our church building is through our worship together—it’s one of the key, defining marks of the Christian life, our life as “the Church.” In it we gather together around the teaching of God’s word, His gifts to us in communion and baptism, and in support of each other through fellowship and prayer. That’s not nearly all that we, the Church, do in the church though! From maintenance to fellowship, teaching bible studies to Sunday School, and the occasional brushing of dust to a congregational “spring cleaning day,” the Church is really active in the church. Add in the outside happenings that are welcomed into our facility, and you have one busy church (building and people)!
There are plenty more opportunities to do more, both in areas where we’re working already and in completely new ministries. It’s a great way not only to become more familiar with all your fellow brothers and sisters in the Church, but also to share in the joy that we have when we “be the church” by, well, “doing church,” certainly on Sundays, but also every day of the week throughout our lives.
On June 11, we celebrate the festival of the The Holy Trinity and begin the second half of the Christian year which focuses on our life together as people baptized into the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So what does that mean to us and for us? Put most simply, this: that God who is a community of mercy, love, and grace has created us to live as a community of the same. Trinity means “three in unity” and community means “with unity.” So, the God who said, ‘Let us make humans in our image and likeness’ (Genesis 1:26) is the One who by that same mercy, love, and grace enables us to live as ‘…the holy Christian Church—the community of saints.’
But here’s the problem, even for a Christian: Sometimes we live as the unholy trinity of “me, myself, and I.” Most of the busyness that fills life then becomes what “I want” instead of what “we need.” Life gets centered on pleasing, serving, and promoting self, instead of loving God with ‘your whole being’ and others as much as yourself—what Jesus said is the most important thing to get straight about life (Mark 12:28-31)! It does “take a village,” but another way of saying it is that it takes a Trinity: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). It means living as his holy ones in a trinity of “you, me, and we”… with the “we” being our fellow human beings and fellow Christians.
Simply put, we need God. We need the Holy Trinity to live as a trinity of “you, me, and we”—as brothers and sisters of each other in mercy, love, and grace.
Peace, Pastor Aaron