Whose Church Is It Anyway?

If Holy Trinity closed tomorrow, who would get

the church building and all its contents? The answer

to that question is simple yet complicated.

No single individual or group of individuals, who

now or have ever attended worship at the church

building or any individuals who have led its people

in ministry or anyone who ever volunteered to

sustain its mission and outreach within or beyond

the walls of its prominent and proud physical

structure would be able to lay claim to it. The

fact is, all of it, down to the last dusty Bible and

faithfully used hymnal would become the possession

of the greater church, the synod, for a determination

of what would be done with it and its

contents or what might its next use be.

This truth is a clear reminder that the church or

our church,as we are often apt to refer to it, is

not any of ours but ultimately Gods. It is Gods

house with which we have been entrusted to care

for as responsible stewards and make effective

use of as a vehicle from which to share the good

news—the grace-filled Gospel of Jesus Christ—

with others by way of our words, but far more effectively

through our actions. For when it comes

to the Gospel, actions to speak louder than words,

and it is those actions that change lives for the

better.

The church, the structure where we gather for

worship, fellowship, education, and all else taking

place under its roof, is a symbol for the wider

community of Gods presence. As Gods house

and not our own, it is important as good stewards

we use it and make it available and welcoming as

God would wish it be, so all Gods children feel

welcome in it and as comfortable in making use

of it on more than just Sunday morning. If we are

keeping Gods house to ourselves and limiting its

use to our activities alone, we are wrongly deciding

for God who Gods house guests should be.

And we must honestly ask ourselves, who are we

to limit the guest list?

As the greater church and individual congrega

tions faithfully see to find our way in an everchanging

world and a society that is ever becoming

more and more suspicious of religious institutions,

we as stewards of Gods house are now

tasked with the role of Christ-centered and gracefilled

emissaries who must throw open the doors

of the church as wide as they will go—removing

them from their hinges if necessary—so none will

ever feel unwelcome, unloved, or unworthy of the

love of God, available to all through the gift of

Jesus Christ. Our buildings, which we have worshiped

as idols for far too long and made the seats

of our faith and foundations of our discipleship

are not ours to desperately hold on to and keep

for ourselves, but rather are to be understood as

community centers, which reflect the presence of

God and the love of Christ, and are busy seven

days a week, utilized by others, and not just on

Sunday mornings.

Let us prayerfully consider how we will be the

faithful stewards of Gods house and how we will

be a constant source of Gods love, in all its many

forms and possibilities, as we open the doors to

their widest and invite all to make use of this

house for far more than just worship—a house of

Gods love in which there is always be room for

one more.

Faithfully,

Pastor Mark

© 2020 Holy Trinity Lutheran of Ephrata
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