Monday, March 15, 2021

What Does "Church" Mean? | Walking w/ Jesus on Emmaus Road


The Road to Emmaus by Daniel Bonnell

 

Three words – liturgyekklesia, and mass – help explain it all


How does one come to a place where they consider visiting a local church? After all, a service of worship or mass with can be a wicked mysterious thing. Why do people do this? What is the mass for? Is it a tradition, a set of values, a time to receive good advice for life? Or is it something more? 

Three ancient words – liturgyekklesia, and mass – begin to help us understand the answers to these questions. The word liturgy means the "work of the people" (John 6:29). The Greek word for church – ekklesia – means "a gathering of people to conduct a civic or Kingdom service and responsibility" (Matthew 16:18-19). And the word mass originates from the Latin phrase ite – missa est, which means “go – you are sent out” (John 20:21-22). 

In understanding the meaning of these three words, we begin to grasp what Jesus desires for you and me who comes cautiously and a little curiously to a service of worship. Jesus tells us that His liturgy for us as we come together with His ekklesia for His mass is to believe in Him, and to be sent out by His Spirit to share and show His Gospel of salvation for the world with all (John 3:16-17, 6:29; Romans 10:9-12).

What is His Gospel? The Gospel is the Good News that through Jesus, God created a very good world to be with us in and to bring forth its potential. And even though we rebelled and invited in the selfishness, erosion, and destruction that we see in us and around us, God continued to pursue us and made the way through Jesus – via His miraculous birth, holy life, atoning death, victorious resurrection, and glorious ascension – to heal, redeem, champion, and reconcile us to Him and each other; to restore everything that is broken in us and around us; and to make all things new in His creation for those who are transformed by His Holy Spirit and put their trust in Him. 

This is why this Story of God is to be remembered by an ekklesia as its revealed during the liturgy of each massWe share and show the Gospel as the history-altering, world-restoring, and life-transforming Good News that Immanuel, God with us, is true in Jesus, whose name means "The LORD saves," and that God with us has always been God’s desire for us and for His world. 

As we come together from different neighborhoods, cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds to sing, confess, proclaim, eat, pray, and share this incredible Story, we learn and are reminded again that we are each completely known, completely forgiven, and completely loved in Jesus Christ. We rest in God’s holy love, truth, grace and justice for us and for the world through Christ. And then we are empowered by His Word, His Spirit, His identity for us in baptism, and His communion with us in the Eucharist to go out and live and work freely as His Kingdom servants and witnesses, loving others, blessing the world through our work, service, and hospitality, and seeking Jesus' glory in every area of our lives. 

It's true. A service of worship with Jesus’ Church is a mysterious thing ... a mystery worth revealing the cosmic and personal meaning of to each other. This is why we come in the midst of caution and curiosity: to hear, commune with, and respond to Jesus and His Good News of the Kingdom together, which is not merely a tradition, set of values, or good advice, but something far more. The Good News we have been given in Jesus is what we have always needed for each of our lives, and for our families, our neighbors, our city, and for the entire world.

An invitation and welcome into rest


After reading the above, if you are curious about connecting with part of Jesus' Church for a service of worship for the first time this coming weekend, know you have been invited by Jesus and are most welcome according to His grace.

Depending on your history or background, you may have planned this all week, or you may still be wondering why you're thinking about joining at all. 

Whatever your story, God knows it and He has been walking with you even if you don’t believe in Him or haven’t recognized how He could know you or love you. Why? Because that’s so many of our stories.

On the road to Emmaus, Jesus met two people who thought He was still dead after being crucified. They didn’t believe He was resurrected and they were walking away from any connection to Him. But He pursued them. And He walked with them, talked with them, and stayed with them. And when they invited Him to come in and eat a meal with them in the town of Emmaus, He broke bread with them – and then they realized it was Him. After this stunning moment, they returned to Jerusalem immediately (in the middle of a doubtful and dangerous night no less), racing to tell their friends that somehow death had been defeated and nothing would be the same. 

In essence, they experienced a meal with the risen Jesus, and then they were sent out with faith, hope, and love like they had never known before.

We are praying that you also will come to experience this type of encounter with Jesus so that you will know Him and understand the great grace that God provides for all who Jesus meets on their journeys in life.

In the meantime, we invite you – whatever your story or background – to learn about the Good News that Jesus offers individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities, and cities. 

Jesus is calling you. Will you enter His rest for you?




P.S. Here are links to two sermon audios + liturgies that capture a bit more why we call ourselves Emmaus City Church:

+ The Road to Emmaus
+ The Road Back from Emmaus to Jerusalem

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike “Sully” Sullivan

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