Church; noun or verb? If it’s a noun, it’s a place. Highland Community Church at 3130 McMillan Road in Abbotsford is a church. It looks like a multi-purpose building and there are certainly more church-like buildings in Abbotsford and around the world. The physical appearance of our ‘church’ sends a message about the group of people who meet there. Or does it? Are we Highlanders because (in part) of our physical building or in spite of it? I’ve appreciated the times we’ve stacked up the chairs and had a square dance, or when we’ve rolled out the tables and ate together. I like the plainness of our building and the flexibility of our space.
But what if ‘church’ is a verb, an action. Instead of going to ‘church’, we ‘church’ or worship together at a particular time and place but we’re not limited to ‘churching’ at any particular time and place. In fact, as followers of Jesus, we are always living the reality of Christ in each of us, and the reality of seeing Jesus in the people around us. Where are two or more…
I ‘churched’ in Portland, Oregon on August 22 and the response to Scripture was given by a retired pastor (Bill) who led that church 30 years ago. He told the story about being offended back then by an older man saying, “I don’t go to church for religion; I go for the people.” Now, Bill told us, he agrees with that statement because we are all, as followers of Jesus, in union with the Trinity, as difficult as that might be to understand. We are Jesus to the people we see at Highland (and elsewhere); and we can see the face of Jesus in those same people. I remember a point in time when someone would share on a Sunday morning about their ‘church’ experience while riding their bike or hiking on the previous Sunday morning. I don’t think my response then was particularly charitable. Now, there’s something special about worshipping together with people we’ve known a long time, with friends, and with strangers; worshipping with the Spirit we share.
In John 1, Jesus said to his first disciples (who were sent by John because John knew Jesus was the Christ), “What are you looking for?” When we next church together, we might ask ourselves that same question, and also ask it of each other. And when we’re not face to face with each other, let’s:
“See others with your eyes, Jesus;
Hear others with your ears;
Speak to others with your words; and
Feel others with your heart.”
With thanks to Pastor Bill Hayes!!
--By Jim Van Meer (Highland Elder)