What is “church” to you? Is it a building we go to? Is it a group of people we gather together with on Sunday mornings? Or is it something deeper and more meaningful? Following the Easter resurrection, we often dive into the beginning of the church as found in the book of Acts. Here in 2:42 Luke has written a very simple yet profound sentence which sums up “church.” It is a time when we fellowship around the teaching of God’s Word while sharing in the Sacrament of the Altar and lifting one another up in prayer.
A seemingly simple activity, yet it’s the most definitive thing in which we engage here on Earth for that is the way in which God has promised to come to us and give us forgiveness, life and salvation. Through His Word rightly proclaimed and His Sacraments rightly administered God meets us poor miserable sinners with all of His grace, love and mercy. He strengthens the weak, encourages the faint, humbles the proud, forgives all us sinners and unites us in the one body of His Son Jesus Christ in order to send us into the world, lights shining in the darkness bringing hope and peace to all. Through the fellowship of believers we are emboldened to stand in the face of any adversity knowing we are not alone. Together we lift our voices and call upon God for all our needs, lifting each other up in prayer which bonds us together.
When we have a proper understanding of church and recognize the multitude of wonderful gifts God has prepared for us, then there is nothing that will cause us to give up gathering together. Thus this is Satan’s greatest attack, lulling us to sleep with worldly concerns, causing us to fail to realize all that God has for us when we gather together. This is not new to our generation for even the writer of Hebrews said, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Our own church constitution states that members are baptized, instructed, confessing individuals who lead Christian lives partaking of the Lord’s Supper with due frequency and help bear the burdens of the congregation. Members are not those who simply have their names recorded in our books, for that is not church. We encourage everyone to seek the Lord where He may be found. To call upon His name for the forgiveness of sins, receive the gifts of God through teaching and the breaking of bread and joining with us in offering up prayers and encouraging each other as we bear one another’s burdens, together awaiting that great and glorious Day of the Lord. I hope to see you this Sunday and every Sunday as we gather together!