Church and IKEA. At first glance, you might think that these two entities are completely unrelated with absolutely no overlap.
Church is certainly not about purchasing pieces of furniture of varying quality. Furthermore IKEA, meatballs aside, certainly doesn’t market itself as a religious experience. One phrase does unite these two polar opposites: some assembly required.
Besides the comparisons we can make about all of us having certain gifts of the Spirit and plugging in to the right ministries to make solid connections, we also gather together as the people of God on Sunday mornings. We come together from many different places. Oh sure, many of the people who come to St. Peter’s live in the general vicinity of the church.
Yet, when we assemble we also bring with us the sum of our past experiences and all other aspects of who we are. We hold different degrees, espouse different political and theological views, and represent a wide variety of socio-economic statuses. Despite our differences, we gather together, we assemble, to become the body of Christ in our community.
It just so happens that Lutherans also tend to value assembly participation in worship. It isn’t enough to go to church and be entertained. We can do that just about any Friday or Saturday night. On the contrary, during our Sunday morning assemblies we want to pray the Lord’s Prayer, recite the Creed, participate in prayers, confess our sins, eat bread, drink wine, sing songs of prayer and praise, and proclaim God’s saving grace for all humankind.
When we assemble and act together on Sunday mornings, we ourselves become a symbol of God’s grace and love.
We lay aside our differences focus on the things which unite us: God’s love poured out on each of us, making us the one body of Christ.
Believing in Jesus crucified on the cross is entirely possible without gathering in a community, but our faith goes beyond personal piety. Jesus calls us to live in community, supporting one another emotionally, physically, and spiritually through the same selfless love he showed during his own ministry. C. S. Lewis puts it well in Mere Christianity when he says:
Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ…He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has – by what I call “good infection.” Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity
Christianity: some assembly required. Being a community of faith, grace, and love, and sharing the love of Christ by being a “little Christ” to our neighbor are some of the key goals of our weekly gatherings. Let us continue to grow into being the church within and outside the walls of the building called St. Peter’s.