Barring an unfavorable change in the COVID metrics, our church will officially open its sanctuary doors for in-person worship three weeks from today. Indeed this Easter will be a “high and holy day” (as one of my divinity professors used to say)—made even sweeter by the ability to once again join together in one place for worship. Yet, as much as we look forward to the coming days, my hope is that we have learned and will not forget the lesson offered in this time apart—a lesson related to this morning’s scripture reading from John 2:13-22. As I explained to the children, “In Jesus’ time, people traveled for days to visit the temple where God’s presence dwelt (or lived). But that’s not the case today. God doesn’t live in our churches, in our sanctuaries. No. The Bible tells us in John 1 that God came to dwell (or live) among us in the person of Jesus. And in the Bible book of Acts, we learn that after Jesus’ death and resurrection and return to heaven, God’s Holy Spirit came to live within each person who believed in Jesus and chose to follow Him.”
The pandemic reiterated one of the most important truths of our faith: that the Church is not a place, but a people—God’s people wherever they are and whatever they are doing. In the coming weeks and months this idea will be tested as we rediscover what our purpose as a church is to be, and as we envision what this might mean for us, it is imperative that we do not forget. God has not called us to build a congregation that sits in the pew each Sunday, but to build His Kingdom—by discipling and equipping those in our care, so that we might share the Good News of Jesus not just with those who enter our services, our classrooms, or programs, but with each person we meet outside our doors, off our campus, too. We can choose to be inward-focused and measure our success by counting numbers and coins, or we can choose to fulfill God’s calling to meet the needs of the world outside our doors—trusting that when we are obedient to God, He will be faithful to us as well.
God doesn’t dwell in certain buildings. Rather, as I Corinthians 3:16 reminds us, we are God’s temple in which God’s Spirit dwells. May we honor God with all that we are—our thoughts, our actions, our very lives.