Lately, I've been thinking about this thing called "the church", and what it means, and its many forms. Someone recently intimated that I might be a tad or more invested in the survival of this "institution" we call "the church".
Maybe she's right.
I've been a church person since way back. Can't do anything about it. I was kind of geeky about it, just liked going to church, singing the hymns. I even did the "put you hands in the air" thing for a few years.
There was a while when I kind of wished that I had a terrible past, and a dramatic conversion story. Perhaps I was reading too many paperbacks at the time.
Be that as it may, I suppose since I am a pastor, and I do the work of leading a congregation, I can't totally get by with saying I'm not interested in the church as an institution. That would be disingenous.
However, what I am really passionate about, what I really care about (I think) is not so much the church as an institution as the church as a gathering.
You know, "where two or three are gathered...." I really do believe that disciples of Jesus need to gather.
It can be at a high Mass on Sunday morning, or it can be four people in someone's basement on Wednesday evening, practicing Lectio Divina.
Just being with two or three other people and the Word sometimes has the ability to help me see beyond my own self-importance or my own self-negation. Sometimes it's despair I need to find a way out of. Sometimes it's the pride to think I'm always right.
Long ago, I called my blog "faith in community" because I really thought that. It doesn't mean the community has to be so big, or formal. You don't have to sing the songs I like. You don't have to sing at all (although I do like to sing.) It also doesn't mean that I think that community is perfect, or easy, or that there's no fighting, or hurting, misunderstanding or meanness.
Maybe that's the reason we need his promise, "where two or three are gathered, I am in the midst of them." Not just for comfort or for prayer, but for reconciliation.