Look around you. Who is in front of you? Who’s behind you? Who’s on your right side? Your left side?
The blessing of church and the blessing of worship are the people who are around you. They have gathered together as the body of Christ and they (like you) are all members of the body. Each one important. Each one with different gifts. Each one needing each other (after all we don’t want to be missing the hand or foot or pituitary gland).
There are more and more areas of our lives that we can simply do from our favorite easy chair (answer email, shopping, attending a class, talking to family and friends that live in another part of the country or the world). As a society that no longer has to be in a certain place to do certain things, what does all this mean when it comes to church and worshiping God? In addition, with so much going on in our lives and as people who know that God is with us (we know we don’t have to go to church to have God present in our lives), we may again question what this means for church and attending worship. Add to that the fact that if all you’re looking for is an excellent sermon or beautiful music, you can probably find more efficient ways to do this on the internet. So, what does this mean for worship and church? There are some who speculate whether a physical church will even matter in the future.
But what if the church and worship is more than a physical building or the best sermon or music? If church is about gathering as the body of Christ to be the body of Christ to and for one another, we can’t get that on our phone or via the internet or in our favorite chair.
Worship and church are about “we” not “me.” While our individual lives of faith are important, and it is important for each one of us to grow in our faith, worship is not a “me and Jesus” event. Worship is “we” not “me.” Together we sing the song (even if you end up as out of tune as I do sometimes). Together we hear scripture and respond, “Thanks be to God.” Together, in the presence of the family of God, a child is baptized because you need to get the family together in order to become part of the family. Together we share the Lord’s Supper, because meals are always better together than alone. Together we speak, we sing, we sit, we stand, we pray.
There is also something transformative that happens in worship. Jesus said, “where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20). Water together with God’s Word in the midst of the community becomes the living water of eternal life in baptism. Bread and wine with God’s Word in the midst of the community becomes a meal of forgiveness and salvation. And you and I gathered together in the midst of the community become empowered to live lives of hope and grace in a world in need of hope and grace.
We may not always know (or know very well) the person who is in front of us, behind us, to our right or to our left, but there’s something about that person being there – it’s an intentional way Christ has promised to show up for you. And it is also a way in which God is working through you to be the body of Christ to others. Sometimes we think there’s another person or a better person that can do that, but that is not the case. God made only one you to be part of the body Christ, and the body of Christ needs you, the you that God made, because only together can we truly be the body of Christ.