All my life, I’ve never not believed in God, but it’s taken almost 60 of my 80 years to believe in church.
After discovering Wilshire 15 years ago, I hungered to know more about Jesus, Christianity, Baptists, the Bible and church. I’m still learning and grabbing almost any source — books, websites, articles, videos, sermons and testimonies from people I know and don’t know. The range of information crosses lines between liberal/progressive and conservative/fundamental. I want to hear and savor it all.
So when I prepare for worship, it’s not for one Sunday; it’s for every day — because I’ve learned these last 15 years that that’s where church is: in our daily routines with the people who populate our days, those we know and those we don’t. Before COVID-19 took over our lives, we met these folks face-to-face, in stores, pharmacies, restaurants, movie theaters, museums, beauty salons, barber shops, taverns, concerts, school rooms, courtrooms, lectures, elevators, sanctuaries and on DART, planes, trains and airport shuttles. The list of places we can no longer frequent is exhausting.
Now that we are confined to our homes, church and the people who fill our days come to us online, as electronic blips on our laptops, televisions and smartphones. We no longer can touch or smell or taste church, but we can see and hear it. And maybe that’s enough when we prepare for daily worship — that and reading and listening to the sources we’ve found that enrich our understanding of church.
For example, in his first letter, Peter addresses those in exile (and don’t we feel exiled in our isolation?):
Prepare your minds for action;
discipline yourselves; set all your hope
on the grace that Jesus Christ [the Head of Church] will bring you … .
Live in reverent fear during the time of your exile … .
Love one another deeply from the heart.
You have been born anew … through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:13, 17, 23
Thus, just as God is in us, so is Church. I can now believe that, although I need daily reminders.