So, I’m not Catholic per-se, but I think they have done a fairly good job of maintaining nomenclature regarding Mass; or gathering or “church”. This is something I feel is being or has been forgotten. As a Christ-follower, I understand that my ultimate goal is to honor and glorify God by surrendering my will to His. Where these two ideas, of Mass and obedience to God, collide is where I am in this moment.
The discipline of gathering together to remember Christ’s body and blood is one that is ancient, holy and essential. It is commanded by Christ, who is the fullness of God, and I could hardly consider calling myself a Christ-follower were I to neglect it. Likewise, the benefit and duty of gathering is exhorted in scripture [Heb 10:25]; I have been its’ beneficiary and I encourage others to do the same.
What I would like to suggest is that we pause to ask ourselves, “Has God asked us to gather in this way?”
Weekly; Non-weekly. In a building; Not in a building. With thousands; With several. Lights, video and sound; silence and stillness. We’ve selected some methods that fit our culture, needs and preferences, but my fear and suggestion is that we have allowed the perriferal to become the essential.
As “the body”, which is the true “Church”, we use terminology such as, “going to church”, which doesn’t make any sense if we are to think about the words we use. Then we have to clarify what we are talking about; if we are using the “big C or little c” in church. Frankly, “the church” is people and you can’t “go to” people.
The detriment here is not so much that we must be wordsmiths and English majors, but that we lose something by speaking this way. Cultural speech directs individual thinking. If I “go to church” then I “leave church” afterward. “Church” is then just a program, not a group of people living out a way of life.
Therefore, gather together. Feel free to put on a program (all the while, avoid calling it a “service”… let’s save that for when we actually serve people, so that we don’t misplace the meaning of that important word as well). But don’t forget that we are all the body, and gathering together is not our primary function. I’ve been let off the hook too many times by congregations whom allow me to sit, take and leave; I am essentially neglecting my responsibility as a “Christ-follower” of following Christ in His way.
May this be my official invitation to you, to hold me accountable for my responsibility to the way, and not to a program.