The Church Has Left the Building. There was this movement a few years ago that would take a day of worship and make it an active community outreach. Instead of a worship service, it was service as worship.
We would do all kinds of things. For the church I was at then, there were visits to nursing homes to share music, cookies to deliver to first responders, care of the trails of the local park by cutting branches and pulling invasive weeds, painting fire hydrants, and cleaning the trash along the railroad tracks and playground. One group I remember couldn’t do things like the lawn care for shut-ins and the minor house fixes for the elderly. They did the cards and letters to send to people who were sick.
I have fond memories of this event that happened about ten years ago. Now I am thinking about worship. How can we do those amazing things with the same energy and gratitude that we had when we knew we’d come back together the next week for our regular time in the sanctuary back then?
The Church Has Left the Building.
We are so eager to go back that we can forget what we can do here and now. We want to skip ahead or back when we are still processing the grief in living right now. We’ve been in a problem-solving mode so long it can be hard to find a chance to see ourselves rather than our circumstances. We want to be strong when others ask how we are and yet we want them to keep asking. We have been alone with ourselves a lot longer than we expected.
It took me thinking of what has happened these last few weeks to see how the church in action is there. I received a well-timed card from a church member that was a “hug card.” I have had the virtual Zoom visits with others. I have seen others move things on the walk with the dog—picking up the blown over trash can or the stray garbage on the street. I have seen people help someone from a distance with a gift card or donation. I’ve seen the drive-by waves for a child’s birthday and the decorating of someone’s yard just for a pick-me-up. The church has left the building but the church is so much more than that building.
We don’t know when we will be back together in worship in the church but we know we have many ways to get ahead to deeper, stronger worship as the church. God’s presence is everywhere. God is pleased when we love others when it would be so easy to wait, to hold back until a better time. God is joyful when we turn to him rather than the latest distraction on the internet.
What will you build to be the church that is right with God? How are you in service while you cannot be in a service? Where can you be there for someone when you can’t be there in person?
It is hard. We don’t just grieve what is but we can worry about what will be. I think about how much more grateful I will be to be in worship when I feel I should be so much more grateful that I can worship now, still, despite wish and miss the most.
When we worship, God is with us. Of all that we could celebrate we are the church wherever God sends us. And we get to praise him just as much as when God has us be still to know God is God. The church has left the building but hasn’t left building or being the church. Let’s worship all ways and in all ways.