I made a quick trip to Chattanooga today to see my parents and was blessedly away from the news for most of the day. When I got home this evening I saw that the president has demanded that churches be opened again “right away.” I have some news for him. Churches have not been closed. Buildings have been closed. But anyone who thinks that the church is the building has very little understanding of what it means to be the church.
We have not gathered in the church building since March 15. But here’s what we’ve done since then. We’ve worshiped together online not just on Sunday mornings, but five evenings a week, reaching hundreds of people who have never set foot in our building. We’ve raised $55,000 to relieve $5.5 million of medical debt for some of Atlanta’s poorest households. We’ve made substantial financial contributions to four food pantries. We’ve established a fund to provide financial relief for parishioners whose livelihoods are affected by the pandemic. We’ve made dozens of masks for medical workers, and written them letters of gratitude. We’ve collected car loads of food for the Pop Up Food Pantry in Sandy Springs. We’ve called and checked on one another, and taken meals to parishioners in need. We’ve come together by Zoom to do the church’s business, discuss theological issues, and sing. We’ve prayed for and with one another. We have been the church.
No one looks forward to the day we can be together in the church building more than I do. I miss each and every one of you more than I can express with words. But don’t let anyone tell you that we haven’t been the church these past 2.5 months. We have been, and we will continue to be the body of Christ, worshipping, praying, caring for one another and the world.
Thanks be to God.