Pick on someone dear to me, or someone who cannot defend themselves and my inner Mighty Mouse emerges, fierce as a mama bear whose cubs are in danger. That happened last week, and the dear one picked on was the capital “C” Church. Pick a fight with the Church, and you pick a fight with me.
I received an email as pastor of St. Paul’s UCC from an organization inviting me, as pastor of St. Paul’s UCC, Woodstock, “to join us with your church in returning to our God-given religious freedom and begin to assemble as the Bible says in Hebrews 10:24-25. We as members of the body of Christ have chosen to not assemble during the height of Covid-19; however, as we see the nation returning to normal the first thing we should do is return to our churches.”
Perhaps a Hawaiian lesson is needed. There are two different words in the Hawaiian language for the English word “church.” There is hale pule, house of prayer or meeting house, and ekalesia, the people who are the church. It is an important distinction. We might not be meeting in the hale pule, but the ekalesia is alive and well and doing the work of God in the midst of this pandemic. We are church, we have been, are and will be. These circumstances don’t change that. In fact, I believe that how the church has responded in this time shows the strength, the agility, the creativity, and the nimbleness of the church. COVID19 has revealed the church at its finest.
What I’ve discovered during this time, is a reaffirmation of Jesus’ promise in Matthew 18:20, “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (New Revised Standard Version) says this, “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” That has happened in spades in so many ways in the past two months, because of each and every one of us, being ekalesia, loving neighbor as self as we love God, sharing our lives, our gifts, our riches, our hearts, even daring to meet and worship in creative ways that no virus can defeat. Growl!
E aloha ke Akua (Thanks be to God) ~ Anne