How big is our church? Well…there are different ways to answer that question. We could share the physical dimensions of the church, measuring how many people fit in our sanctuary and how tall our church steeple is. We could talk about the number of church members our community has or how many people we have on our mailing lists. But I like to think about our size by looking at our relationships and connections. Our church is big because everyone who calls CLC home is connected to people outside of our church building. We all have neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and friends. Some of our family and friends are living all over the world. As disciples of Jesus Christ, our impact isn’t limited to only the people we see on Sunday morning. Jesus is with us wherever we go and is active in all the relationships we have. Our church isn’t only building on the corner of Church and Pascack roads. The church is the people God has called to be here and the church impacts everyone through the relationships we all have.
One of the relationships that unite us as members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA – our denomination) is the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The LWF is a global communion of 145 Lutheran denominations from 98 different countries. It’s a network of 74 million Lutherans who worship, pray, celebrate, and gather together for an assembly every six years. The most recent assembly of the LWF was this past May in the country of Nambia. Our denomination’s Presiding Bishop, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, attended. In her recent article in the Living Lutheran, she wrote about being a global community united in our life with Christ. And she shared a story I would like to share with you:
At the LWF Assembly a delegate from Russia told this story of freedom in Christ. There used to be a Lutheran church in St. Petersburg. It was a beautiful structure witnessing to the glory of God where the Lutheran immigrants who arrived in the 18th century could worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. It was skillfully crafted out of wood. St. Mary’s Lutheran Church still stood in St. Petersburg, renamed Leningrad.
The church was a place of worship and hope during the siege of Leningrad during WWII. But people were freezing and starving to death in Leningrad. There was no wood for heating or cooking. So the Lutherans looked at their beloved church and then looked at the suffering around them. Piece by piece they dismantled their building and gave it away for the life of their community.
Last month, we committed ourselves as a congregation to Raise the Roof on our ministry by replacing the flat roofs on our buildings. We are doing this because we know we are a community with a vibrant future in Northern New Jersey. We will continue to share Jesus in all our relationships and use everything God has given us, including our buildings, to give ourselves away for the life of our communities. As we move forward into a new and exciting future, let’s remember that we are more than a building. We are the church. And we are here to love and serve each and every day.
See you in church!