Devotions from Tri-City ELCA Pastors – Pastor Tia, April 08, 2020

Dear siblings in Christ,

here is the major thing. Our churches are closed. For good reasons, obviously. I would have never thought that I once in my life had to beg people to stay at home – even during Holy Week. The (church-)world has turned upside down.

For the last 3 weeks Sunday mornings have been super busy at our home in preparation for our Zoom worship service. Around 9 am my husband and I usually start moving most furniture in our living-room around the toys on the floor to create the “church-setting”. The most important task is to only show the couch, the cross, a picture, a candle and me. Meaning, we are hiding most stuff behind the scenes.

We are doing this because Sunday mornings half of our living-room turns into a church. At least that’s what I kept telling myself.

If you think about though, it’s much more complex and simple at the same time. Just like worshiping God is not just this “one-hour-a-week-event” on any given Sunday morning, church is not just the clean make-do part of my living-room between 9 and 11 am on Sunday. Right now, my home is my everything. My living-space, my husband’s and my office, my kids’ school, my yoga-studio, my theater, my bar to meet (virtually) with friends and my church. My home is all I have right now, so it is everything to me.

I don’t go to church anymore, I wake up at church, I eat at church, I fight and forgive at church, I love and laugh and cry at church. I work at church, relax at church, go to bed at church. Isn’t that beautiful?

My home is my church and my church is my home. And no, I am not promoting individual churches for everyone. That wouldn’t make sense at all. Because the church is always bigger than our gatherings in our church buildings. And be it at Christmas. The church is the community of Saints we belong to. The worldwide community that transcends space and time. That community of people who have believed in Christ before us, who believe in Christ right now and who will believe in Christ even long after we are dead. That’s the church we all belong to by baptism. It’s the most wonderful world-wide family one can be a part of (in my humble opinion).

It took me a while, but sometimes during the last couple of weeks, I figured, that I am currently not serving one church-building, but 60 and more. Because any household filled with prayers, no matter how stumbled, that feels connected to our church community via our worship or devotions or phone-calls, is a church in itself, that we serve right now. Your home is a church just like mine right now. Maybe a little tidier than my kid-chaotic-mess, but I am sure God doesn’t mind the noise and chaos that comes with life.

In Matthew 18,20 Jesus assures his disciples aka us: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” It’s one of these verses most of us know by heart and we think we know what it means. That we need at least two people to be with Jesus. Well, if you have the time to read the context in Matthew 18, it’s worth a look. (I won’t spoil it!)

But here is the Good News: If you believe in God or just long for God or just started wondering about this God, your home is a church. Because you are a disciple of Christ. No matter how many people live at your place or how many of them believe in Christ. Jesus is there with you. He sits at the table with you, he watches over you when you are asleep, he sees your first smile in the morning and your deep sighs and everything in between. Because Jesus promised us: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28,20) No exceptions for singles made. Your home is your church right now just as my home is my church. Maybe you have a certain place where you feel more connected to God than elsewhere in the house? Maybe the bath-tub? Or your comfy chair? Or your garden? Or your kitchen table?

There are so many churches out there right now. And all of them are real churches. But they are not the entire church. Just as none of our congregations ever is. Yet, we can still connect as many churches as we are able to for a joined worship service tomorrow (Maundy Thursday) at 7 pm via Zoom. Bring your dinner, if you like. And prepare some bread (any kind will do) and a glass of wine or juice. Because we will feast apart but together and it will be totally different and new, but it will be how it was back at the Lord’s last supper: an improvised gathering of slightly anxious people, longing for Jesus to be with them to the end of the age.

Be blessed and be a blessing, 

Pastor Tia!

Click here for Zoom instructions for Maundy Thursday.

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