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MORE THAN A BUILDING
March 25, 2020, 5:00 PM

MORE THAN A BUILDING

When people say the word “church” what comes to mind first to most people is a … building, and what happens inside that building. “Do you go to church (building)?” “I go/don’t go to church (building).” Its been that way as long as I can remember. I grew up with a nursery rhyme that went like this (see if you are familiar with it too, I’ll bet many of you are): “Here's the church, and here's the steeple. Open the door and see all the people” and you even remember and can do the simple finger and hand motions that went with it. The “church” as a building.

Yet here we are in March 2020 with many/most church buildings in America “closed for business”. And if the “church” is mainly about a building and what happens inside, then Christianity in America is seriously in trouble. But I say “Thank God” that isn’t the case at all!

The church is … people … people who know Jesus as Lord and Savior, worship Him and build their entire lives around Him, and they do it together. And while a building on the corner or down the road is really nice to help that happen it isn’t a necessity! In fact, as most of you probably know, the early Church didn’t have distinct church buildings during the first two centuries … and they did pretty well! In fact, they spread across the entire Roman Empire and beyond.

Writing in the 50’s AD to a group of Christ followers in the Greek city of Corinth, to people he had personally led to Christ, Paul puts this down on papyrus: “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)” You may read those words but here’s the backstory: In early times, Corinth was known for its magnificent Temple to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and the Temple to Apollo (both in ruins in Paul’s time). But there were the temples for Poseidon, Hermes, Venus-Fortuna, Isis, to Asklepios, the god of healing, and his daughter, Hygieia, and one dedicated to “All The Gods” (the Pantheon), and on the slopes was the sanctuary of Demeter. If you wanted a Temple in Corinth and a god/goddess to worship inside, there was one for you! And in that context Paul’s words are downright revolutionary: You Corinthian Christians don’t need a temple … you together (a little Greek here: Paul uses the plural of “you” here: “you all” [I guess Paul was from the South]) are The Temple of the living and true God here in Corinth. God’s people believing, worshipping, living and serving together are the Temple of God. We may meet in a building, we may meet in a home, in a school, out in the field .. but God’s people are The Temple of God, where .. in whom and with whom, God by His Spirit lives. In fact .. a little more Greek here: Paul says we are God’s naos … that means, the Inner Temple, the deepest and most sacred part of the Temple … that part in God’s Temple in Jerusalem known as The Holy of Holies. We … God’s saved people, together are God’s Holy of Holies, where He lives and shows His majesty, glory, power, love, lordship, liberating presence. Think on that for a while and see if your mind and spirit don’t get blown, just a bit!

That means my fellow believers here in Coryland … and I am writing this part to you more specifically … we may not be meeting together in the Coryland Church building, but we are still the church. “Church” doesn’t stop because we aren’t meeting in the building. Yes, just like you I love this building for what it represents and allows us to do (in fact, even though it was hard to remove all of our trees due to blight, it is really great to come up Coryland Road and see our church building stand out so prominently). But prayers for one other and others continue, our Bibles still come out and are read (I really encourage all of us to daily connect with God … don’t wait until we get back together on a future Sunday), we are probably calling each other more than even usual and writing notes and sending cards (and I can testify to how many people have called just asking how my wife and I are doing; thank you so much!), we are and will find some new ways to minister to one another (including this website), and we will regather to celebrate our Risen Lord in the future! In the meantime, “church” continues … because God lives with each of us and God is living and working in our believing family. More than a building!

Pastor Jay