I miss church. I miss singing worship songs with a congregation, and being in community with people at both my home church, Parkway, and at The Dale. This pandemic has really caused me to reflect upon what church is. I agree with many who say “church is essential” but I’m not sure that has to mean gathering in a building once a week.
At the beginning of the church closures last year, at The Dale we knew we wanted to stay in the community so we made the decision to remain present through doing outreach. What this looked like was walking the neighborhood along Queen Street, checking in and chatting with folks, offering prayer, and handing out snacks and drinks (at a safe distance with masks). It was nice to feel connected in this way and we even ended up seeing some of the same folks every week.
During this time, I thought about what church is. In the New Testament, the church is described as the fellowship and the unity of people serving God. The Greek word for church “ekklesia” means assembly of called out ones or a body of faithful people. Here it doesn’t mention a building, chapel, or pews, but instead a group of believers.
One of my favourite things about The Dale is that it’s never needed to own a building to function. Experiencing this combined with a pandemic, which has locked so many doors, has taught me how “ekklesia” can look. That the fellowship in reading scripture with someone on the phone, in sipping soup together on the sidewalk, in colouring devotional colouring pages and sharing them with each other, in partaking in communion on the lawn with leftover juice boxes are all a part of church. It has been such a good reminder that church is more than just a weekly service.
Don’t get me wrong, having a gathering for a church service is still very beautiful and valuable. Over the past 13 months of this pandemic, as the guidelines ebbed and flowed we were able to have a handful of church services here and there, all outside in a parking lot space. And I really cherish those moments! But I’m thankful that God is still with us no matter what rules are in place, that we didn’t leave Him in the building, and that He is still at work.