Jesus said to his disciples: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” Matthew 18:20
I grew up going to church with my family every Sunday. My parents were members of a Finnish Lutheran Church that was part of an association of Finnish churches. During the summer we sometimes attended the annual church convention. People from across the United States came to a host church and were housed by the local church members. Guest speakers came from Finland.
The convention lasted four days. Each morning we listened to two sermons and then had a community lunch that was organized by the host church. In the afternoon two more sermons. Then a community dinner followed by two more sermons.
I was sheltered from many things. Young people in the church did not go to movies or attend dances. For several years my family did not have a television. It was legalism, but I gained a foundation of faith. I knew that I, like all humans, was a sinner. I asked Jesus to be my Savior.
When I went to the University of Michigan I became involved in Intervarsity and joined the Reformed Church. Through participation in Intervarsity and the church I was able to sort through the legalism—my faith was refined and grew stronger.
I met my husband in the young adult ministry of the Reformed Church. After we were married we chose to become members of the Evangelical Free Church.
It is true that the Church is not perfect. It is made up of sinners who need to confess their sins regularly and repent. The Church is a spiritual family. Both our family of origin and the church family have flaws, but we need them. God has given the family unit as foundational unit for society.
The Church is the spiritual family that helps us know God and develop spiritually. We sing and praise God. We pray together, confessing our faults and seeking God’s will. We study the Bible together so that we understand God’s commands and obey. We help each other.
When we consider how God has designed us for relationship and community, we can understand why the restrictions imposed by the pandemic are so painful. The isolation that my mother and many others are experiencing in nursing homes is not right. Churches are struggling to navigate through this time.
And so we pray for this pandemic to end, for the officials making decisions about restrictions, for truth and for God’s mercy.
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