The Greek word “ekklesia”, which we see in the New Testament defining the assembled church, literally means “to be called out.” While in ordinary discourse being called out has negative connotations, in Christian theology being called out signifies finding meaning, purpose, and guidance for life. We are called out to a life of adventure and service with a God who is crazy about us!
This summer, Grace United Methodist Church welcomed the opportunity to merge with The Open Door United Methodist Church, formerly known as First United Methodist Church of Cocoa. We will meet and serve together as Grace UMC at the Merritt Island campus that Grace has called home since 1962. Grace is a “daughter” church of First UMC Cocoa, so now the daughter gets to serve as hostess of the mother.
But the merger is not really about buildings and locations. The merger is about God “calling out” people from two worshipping communities to come together and share the love of God with more people, from a variety of walks of life, in a new context.
One of these new contexts includes a gathering known as “The Five.” Every Sunday at 5 pm, in our Fellowship Hall, there will be a casual time of food, contemporary music, learning and community building. This is truly a “come as you are” opportunity to receive a meal, meet new people, and experience a community that believes that we all need face to face contact with other people in order to share life’s journey.
When the disciples of Jesus started meeting and sharing life together in the first century, I imagine that those gatherings resembled “The Five.” The people came together, shared food and possessions, and sought to be faithful to God’s calling on their lives. Sadly, over the centuries the church has become focused on institutional survival, hierarchical authority structures, and property and buildings.
But there is good news! Church does not have to be complicated or costly. Jesus said that wherever two or more of us gather in the name of Christ, He is with us.
That is such a simple, inviting definition of church. But don’t take my word for it. Instead, remember the invitation of Jesus when the early disciples asked him where he was staying. Jesus said “Come and see.” Let us do likewise.