Summary: With all the changes to how we worship this short series looks at what the church is.
The church! When you think of the church, what is it you think of?
Maybe it’s Cornerstone. This might be where you met Jesus, where you were baptized and where you have grown in your faith.
Maybe it’s the church from your childhood. The church where you met Jesus, where you were baptized and where you grew in your faith. The church where you went to Sunday School though they year and VBS in the summer.
For some of you the old song was a reality when it said, “Church twice on Sunday and once in the middle of the week.”
When you were growing up church may have been the focal point that your family activities revolved around, and the words, “We can’t, we have church then.” were something that you heard many times in your home.
Some people have really only had one or two churches homes in their entire life. Others change churches like some people change clothes.
They are like the man who was rescued from the deserted island. His rescuers noticed that there were three grass huts on the island and asked him about them. “Well,” he said, “The one there is my house, my home. And that one over there is my church, it’s where I worship on Sunday.” “What about the third hut?” His rescuer asked. “Oh,” he replied, “That the church I used to go to.”
Sometimes when I meet with someone who has just started attending Cornerstone, they will list all the churches they’ve attended in the past, and then they will list their litany of complaints that accompany each church. I wonder; when they leave Cornerstone, where we will fall on that list.
They are looking for the perfect church and they don’t realize that wherever they go, there they are.
Over the next few weeks, our theme is “We the Church” and during this time I want to focus on the Church, because for many of us, so much of what we think of when we think of church is now missing from our lives.
The building, the gathering together, the singing. And to be truthful, we aren’t sure when those things will be a part of our reality again.
If the church was permitted to open next week, but there could only be fifty in the building at any one time, you would have to come in the front door and go immediately to your seat, which of course would be socially distanced from the other seats in the worship centre.
During our time together, you wouldn't be able to hug anyone, or for that matter you wouldn’t even be able to shake their hands. There’d be no music for the fear of people singing moistly, or we’d have to sing with masks on. There would be no celebration of communion, and a very limited children’s program.
And then, when the service was over, you would have to immediately get up and leave the building.
At the end of the day, would that have been the church you miss?
And I understand how some people feel about Hebrews 10:25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
But how we met together 3 months ago, in a comfortable climate-controlled building, with a band, and children’s ministry would have been very different from how those who first read these words 2000 years ago worshipped together.
And so even though we aren’t together physically on Sunday mornings, we are still meeting together. When we watch the message on whatever device, it is we watch it on. And when we nod and agree or shake our heads and disagree, we are doing it together.
So, this morning, I want to start by looking at what the church is.
The scripture that was read this morning, is the first time the word church is used in the bible, and that is found in Matthew 16:18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
There has been all kinds of debate and confusion about this passage. And as is typical when we can’t agree, there are usually lines drawn and things end in division.
The traditional Catholic interpretation of this passage is that it is here that Peter is granted authority as the first pope, and leadership of the church. But there is no clear indication that this is about an institution.
On the other hand, the traditional Protestant interpretation would be that the rock upon which the church was founded was Peter’s confession of Christ, rather than Peter himself. However, that interpretation ignores what the text says.