What Is Church?
Zac Harmon-McLaughlin of Sacramento, CA, USA
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. -Ephesians 4:14-16
Lately I’ve been increasingly interested in what sacred community looks like. When I walk into congregations on Sunday mornings, I’m often confronted with this quick comment, “Welcome to church!” But is this really what I am being welcomed to? I think more often what we mean is, “Welcome to worship!”
The Church is the body or community of Christ. It literally means the “people gathered.” So when someone says, “I’m going to church” or “Do you want to come to church with me?”, do we really understand what we are saying?
Please don’t misunderstand me-worship is an important part of the disciple’s life, but it isn’t the fullness of it. We simply need to understand what welcome and invitation to church means and make sure we are prepared for it. When we welcome or invite someone to church we are welcoming them fully into our lives and into our community. This is much more than an hour-a-week responsibility. This is a transformed life that leads us deeply into the heart of one another. To be the church is to be “visibly one in Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 165:6a). When did worship become synonymous with transformative community that draws us into the life of Christ in all aspects of our lives?
I deeply desire to be the church. I don’t want to be stuck in a rut and routine of once-a-week worship, parading around as if that suffices for being the church. May we have the courage to engage deeply in the lives of our brothers and sisters. May we recognize that we belong to one another and, through that belonging, we are called be fully transformed. When we are the church, we aren’t concerned with worship lasting an hour or four days. When we are the church, we aren’t overly worried about the building. Being the church is a willingness to be the hands and feet of Christ in community.
Let us live into the sacred words found in Doctrine and Covenants 163:1: “‘Community of Christ,’ your name, given as a divine blessing, is your identity and calling. If you will discern and embrace its full meaning, you will not only discover your future, you will become a blessing to the whole creation. Do not be afraid to go where it beckons you to go.” Let us become a Community of Christ.
“In God’s hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being” (Job 12:10).
All That Lives
Sit quietly and sense God’s presence flowing through the trees and all creation. Offer a prayer of gratitude for your connection to all that lives. Ask for grace to discern and carry out one small act of justice or healing that creates greater wholeness for the plants, animals, trees, waters, air, and land that are part of the community of creation.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.