Last Saturday, we were grappling with the decision about whether or not to gather for worship. Not to gather seemed like an overreaction. Gathering seemed like a way of gambling with the health of our community. We decided not to meet on Sunday.
Last Saturday seems like it was three years ago!
Actually, last Saturday was three days ago -- and just barely that! All this alone-time, all this disruption of normal routine, all this wondering about what comes next . . . is going to be a challenge. For all of us.
But one thing that we will want to keep in mind -- even as we find new ways of living -- is that the church is still the church. What we will want to keep in mind is that the church doesn't cease to exist when we cannot be together. The church universal (followers of Jesus all around the world) as well as our little church that meets in the mall continues to exist and thrive and minister and serve . . . even when we cannot point to a group of gathered people.
Sometimes the church is scattered by its own choice. For example, a church that sends people out on mission chooses separation. When some people are in another place, the whole group can't be together.
At other times, separation is forced upon the church. That's what we're facing now. But this is not the first time the church has dealt with this. All around the world -- and at every age in history -- followers of Jesus have been kept apart for all kinds of reasons. Still, even in times of separation, the church continues its vital work. Even in times of separation, the church does not cease to exist.
So hear this well today: even if we cannot be together, the church is just fine. Even more, you and I are the church! Today. Right where we are. Even when we are not together.
It's easy to see church when we worship together on Sunday morning. But church is just as real on Tuesday afternoon. And as church on Tuesday afternoon, we love and care and pray and worship and lay down our lives for others . . . because that is who the church is and that is what the church does.
We are church when we are together. And we are church when we are apart.
So right now, during this time when we are apart . . . let us be the church!