The Portable Church

September 19, 2012

Philippians 1:8

"All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!"

Reflection by Lillian Daniel

The other day at the gym, I was leaving my yoga class, sweaty and dirty, when I bumped into a new parishioner, also in his gym clothes. The proud father had his brand new tiny baby in a carriage by the snack bar.

Right there I made the sign of the cross on the child's head and blessed him. I asked the dad to email the church with the details so we could be sure to mention the baby in our prayers the next Sunday. It had been a long time since he had had a church and he didn't know you were supposed to do that. He whipped out his iPhone to make a note.

That next Sunday, I was all cleaned up, robed in black and leading worship at church.  And there in the back row, also all cleaned up, was this dad with the whole family. When our associate pastor mentioned the baby's name in the prayers, I couldn't help but open my eyes to look at him. The father's head sprung up at the sound of his child's name in church. He gave a smile of such delight, as his eyes caught mine.  I knew that it had been a long time since he had had a pastor.

A year ago this family had no church. Now they have a place to come and hear their baby's name lifted up in prayer in front of a community that has promised to pray for them all.

The church is so much more than a building. Whether you're in your yoga clothes or in a long black robe, whether you are in the pews or at the gym, once you have a church, it has a way of finding you wherever you are. It's remarkably portable.

And as for the building, it's a place to return to and to sit beside others. It's good to hear your name in a prayer along with other names. Together, we are bigger than ourselves, bigger than the building but smaller than the One who finds us wherever we are.

Prayer

Let us pray for all those who are seeking a church home and a place to hear the names of their beloved lifted up in prayer. Amen. 

About the Author
Lillian Daniel is the senior minister of the First Congregational Church, UCC, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She is the author, with Martin Copenhaver, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

Are you thinking about joining a UCC church? Or does your church need a great new member brochure? Read or order copies of "So You're Thinking About Joining the Church," written by Lillian Daniel.

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