It has been a true grace to livestream our services on Sundays–to worship at the same time, in our homes, across the city, during a pandemic. But a greater grace has returned: church in-person.
Church “in-person” is actually a redundant expression. The Greek word for church, ekklesia, means “a regular gathering of people with shared belief.” Church is an in-person reality—a community of flesh and blood worshippers gathered around the risen Christ.
But why is church an in-person reality?
Because the gospel is an in-person phenomenon. God could have conceivably zoomed the good news from the sky, but he didn’t. He sent his very own Son with eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Jesus could have created the printing press to distribute gospel tracts further than he traveled, but he didn’t. Why? Because the gospel has a beating heart. The gospel is more than revealed information; it is a revealed Person.
Jesus came in-person so the unloved could sense his love, so the disheartened could be lifted up by his words, so the struggling could internalize his mercy, so the errant would be corrected, and so the prodigal could be embraced. Jesus put his hands on the mentally ill, the spiritually afflicted, the socially marginalized, the disease-ridden, and sin-sick.
Church is an in-person reality because the gospel is an in-person phenomenon. We gather together to hear and sense God’s words, to receive the embrace of a fellow church member, to extend a heartfelt welcome the stranger, to place a hand on the discouraged and lift them up in prayer, to counsel the struggling, exhort the wayward, and reason with the skeptic.
But most profoundly, we stand still singing our hearts out to the one who does all of this for us. The flesh and blood presence and off-key notes of our fellow brothers and sisters reminds us—it is Jesus who makes all things new. For all these reasons, we will turn off the livestream this summer but gathering will always be on!