Monday, 25 November 2013

Ekklesia - Church as Gathering

I've recently been preaching at a couple of Church Anniversary services, where I was reflecting on the nature of the Church. One of the things I said was about Church as Gathering, drawing on the root meaning of the Greek word that we most often translate as 'church' - ekklesia. Here's what I wrote: maybe it might speak to you.


In our gathering we bring together our diversity, our different gifts, abilities and graces, our unique contributions, to create a rich, wonderful grace-filled community of God’s people.

There is no better community on earth than the community of the Church. Here we bring our joys and triumphs and celebrate together; here we bring our trials and temptations and struggle together; here we bring our pain and our failures and weep together.

Here we are welcomed and accepted for who and what we are: whatever our age; whatever our bank balance; whatever our skin colour; whatever our gender; whatever our orientation; whatever our ability – or that’s how it ought to be.

The focus of our gathering is a table, and behind that table is a Cross, and on that table are the symbols that remind us that, whoever we are, we are united by a common – and yet an uncommon – love. We gather because of that love: the love that we have, however fleeting at times, for the God who loved us so much that he gave himself in Jesus Christ for each one of us.

There are times when that love will bring us to eloquent speech, to raptures of praise and thanksgiving. There are others times when our gathering will be struck dumb as we look desperately for evidence of that love in a world of pain and conflict and hatred: when we struggle to see God anywhere, and we wait the whisper of the breath of God on our cheeks and the faintest murmur of a word from God in our ears and in our hearts.