A week or so ago a new issue of the "British Lutheran" landed in my mail box. The magazine is kind of like our "Lutheran Witness" magazine, and published by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in England. In the summer five years ago I spent a week with the pastors of the ELCE for their summer study get together. The pastors talked about the joys and challenges of doing church in a country where so many people see no need to be received by the God who created them and loved them so much He gave His Son, Christ Jesus, to be their Savior. I came away with a feeling of thanksgiving for their faithfulness in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus in spite of so many turning a deaf ear to their witness.
Rev. Jon Elhers is the Chairman of the ELCE. He writes an article in each edition of the "British Lutheran." In this most recent edition he wrote about the importance of regular attendance at worship and he concluded his article with some thoughts about what the church actually is:
But the church IS the place where each week God's Word is read and proclaimed. The Church IS the place where absolution is pronounced over us assuring us that God, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Savior, has forgiven us our damnable sin. The Church IS the place where Jesus comes to us in Holy Communion to forgive us, unite us, and strengthen us. The Church IS the place where God gives to us His gifts of life, salvation, and forgiveness, so why would we want to separate ourselves from the Church?
Yes, why would we, indeed!