Monday, October 5, 2015

Church Around the World

 Often people confuse church with church buildings, or with particular congregations or even particular denominations.  Not so. As the hymn says, "the church is wherever God's people are gathered."  God's people.  Not God's steeples.  (Actually, I like steeples and bells and stained glass windows, but that's another story.)  The church, as Christ envisioned it and Paul and Peter established it, was a group of people who followed Jesus' teachings and sought to be like Him.  Many turned their lives upside down.  Matthew gave up his lucrative post as a tax collector.  Saul/Paul turned from persecutor to persecuted.  Lydia, a seller of purple, had her whole household baptized.  Roman soldiers mixed with Jews, masters mixed with slaves.  Care for each other was paramount. There wasn't a steeple in sight.
   On Sept. 20, World Peace Day, we saw an example of that borderless church.  About 200 people gathered at the band shell at Beacon Park in Sidney.  There were speakers from many faiths, flags, puppets, balloons, music and a Peace Pole.  The weather was perfect, the mood was joyous and the message of peace was carried from the sanctuary to the street.  The event was organized by Faithlink.
    This Sunday was another example of people of the worldwide church coming together for World Communion Sunday.  On this day Christians around the world and in many denominations come to the Lord's table in solidarity with one another.  Whether we choose steeples and prayer books or gymnasiums and slideshows, we are all one family, all followers of Christ, all believers in one God.  As we celebrate the Lord's Supper as "one church, one faith, one Lord," we fulfil our calling as one body in Christ.  
    It is easy to confuse "church" with building or with "congregation."  But that view is too narrow, too parochial and not faithful to the Bible.  While we may love our own buildings and our own congregations we rejoice in the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. World Communion is more than just a date on the calendar.  World Communion is true "church."

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