What does it mean to “be the church”? I recently read a beautiful essay called “Church Is What We Create with Each Other” by Erin O. White that really captured the blessings of being a smaller church. In it, she describes how her church does announcements at the beginning of each service, which can be anything from the mundane to the joyful, as when an 89-year old member announced the birth of his twin granddaughters one Sunday. People share reminders about upcoming events in the life of the church and community, or ask for donations or volunteer help with something.
“For a long time announcements bothered me,” White says. “I thought they kept us from what mattered, that they were housekeeping, business best conducted somewhere else. Was now really the time to talk about pancake breakfasts and broadband networks? But I’ve since come to understand that yes, actually, now is the time. Because I’ve learned — over many, many years — that church isn’t about order or quiet or even ritual so much as it is about showing up. For yourself, for God, and for the people around you who need to feel — just as you do — that the blessings and burdens of being a human are not theirs to bear alone.”
Indeed, church is about showing up for one another, in many ways. In the small ways perhaps even more so than the big ones. Church is when someone picks you up and gives you a ride to church on Sunday mornings; or when someone brings a home-cooked meal to your house when you are sick. Church is sending cards or flowers; it is going to the memorial service for your loved one. Church is helping someone else’s child get a glass of juice at coffee hour; it is a phone call to make sure you are okay when you haven’t been at church for a while. Church is about sharing our joys and concerns, not just during prayer time in the service, but at other times as well.
“When you are part of a church you accept people’s offerings, even the ones you don’t necessarily want,” White goes on to say. “One week their announcements will bore you and the next week they will make you weep, and sometimes it will be the same announcements. And sometimes during a hymn they’ll start a harmony and you’ll join, and your voices will become a conversation, an expression of love between people who by many measures barely know each other at all.”
So, let’s keep showing up for each other, as we move into this Eastertide season filled with new life and new possibilities. Let’s create the church we want to be, together.