This sermon was written and delivered by Debbie Reese
When you were younger did you ever play the game or do the rhyme with your hands to represent church? Does anyone know what I am talking about? You might have learned it from your gramma or Sunday School or during recess with your little friends?
Here is the church, here is the steeple …open the doors and see all the people.
It’s a fun, harmless rhyme, but it reveals how we think about this thing we do together, this thing we call church. What is church? It’s the building. And we’re inside the building of the church.
For me growing up the building was the church on Sundays or Wednesday nights -We worshiped in the sanctuary, had Sunday school in the classrooms, prepared meals for potlucks. We showed up physically to the building with the people that looked like you, acted liked you and were like you. Church was a physical location, a place we went to be spiritual. It was separate and distinct from my daily life with my friends or at school.
That was fine when I was younger, but as I have grown as an adult and in my career – I teach in a public high school – the old churches’ Sunday model that I grew up with just in the building model of the church just being in a building, having a physical address, didn’t help me with wanting to show my heart and love for Jesus to other people. I had to keep them both separate, but I had a desire to integrate the two. I wanted a faith that wasn’t confined to a physical address, a church that was more than just a building. The problem was there was no model for this for me to follow.
I wanted to share with my students my love for Jesus, but this is forbidden – no doubt you have heard of the law of separation of church and state. I wasn’t able to state how I felt about my Christian faith, the message on Sunday or use scripture of the readings in my classroom. The “Church as building” model didn’t have a pathway to help me integrate my faith with the rest of my life.
Jesus never intended our lives to be divided. And he never intended the Church to be confined to a physical location. Church is a family, a group of people God brings together so that we can be transformed for the sake of the world. And by participating in that family, we come to know God better.