"You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” – 2 Corinthians 3.2-3
Have you ever found yourself, perhaps even on a Sunday morning sitting in a pew, wondering what the church is all about? Is it some sort of breakfast club? (If you’ve never had that thought, then you’ve never been to Immanuel in Brunswick where the feast is always plentiful… and delicious.)
Or some sort of social justice agency? Is it an extended family or community organization? Or a habit you just can’t quit? In a time when church attendance continues to fall and almost no church can simply continue on with business as usual, we must ask ourselves this question: What is the church all about?
And though it may cause a certain amount of anxiety to do so, the particular blessing of this time is actually that we get to ask this question. We get to explore with wonder and imagine and engage with scripture as, with God’s help, we figure out how we are going to move into the future as children of God.
So try on this image, even if only for a moment. What if the church is, at least in part, as Paul described it in his letter to the Christian community in Corinth? What if the church is a letter – from Christ to the world? Consider it. A letter has something to say, usually some sort of news to share. And so does the church. As a community, we are witnesses of God’s loving action for us in Jesus Christ. We are blessed to know the love of God which is so deep and vast that it took on our human flesh, suffered, died and was raised to new life, that we might know that love and live in that new life. Jesus has drawn us into the love of God. And that love has been written on our hearts. Forever. Permanent ink.
So that is the content of the letter – the love of God for us and with us. But, of course, the thing about letters is that once written, they still have to be sent. As the church, entrusted with the precious message of Christ, we are sent out and delivered to the world to bear witness to this love of God. How? By loving. That’s it. That’s the message. That’s the job. To love. Not to pronounce judgment or enforce morality or police thought, but to love –with the same reckless abandon with which God first loved us.
If the church is a letter, our content is love. The deep and abundant, unimaginable love of God. Our handwriting may sometimes be hard to read, our ink may smudge, our envelopes may be tough to open. But our message is love. And the love of God… that message is too good not to share.
Sierra Westerman, is the pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Brunswick. For questions or comments about this column, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.