Or any organized religion? Maybe it’s not about organization so much as community. The (Greek) New Testament word “ekklesia” gets translated “church” but really ekklesia means “assembly.”
In this era of social media and polarization, we sometimes know one another only in one or two dimensions. Life is enriched when we expand our circles and find ways to be present in every dimension: with children and Seniors, Californians and Salvadorans, those financially secure and those struggling to get by.
To share gratitude and hope and our struggles; to care for one another; for feasting, conversing, laughing, telling stories, remembering, listening, praying, singing, agreeing and disagreeing, celebrating, mourning, serving, giving together.
It’s God who calls us into assembly, because God loves and delights in each one of us. God wants to be with us and wants us to be with one another in this love. God drew us together in the flesh and blood of God’s Son Jesus, to face our worst threats with us – and for us. God’s Spirit is with us now to give us life and a certain future that Jesus called “the Kingdom of God.”
What do we look for in a church?
With neighbors such as Apple and Stanford, we get used to excellence in everything from smartphones to academics. In church, we look for excellence, too: in the programs, the music, the preaching, the people. But what’s also on offer in church is human struggle, limitation, failure – and with these gifts, what Paul calls an even “more excellent way … Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t arrogant … it doesn’t insist on its own way … it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (that’s from 1st Corinthians 13, which we often hear at weddings – but it’s really about church life).