What should young people know about the church? While the question is a broad one I hope that readers of any age can see these common themes: In church, we experience God physically on earth where He has promised to be. We gather as His redeemed and beloved people to hear with our own ears His Word in Scripture—the two-edged sword that brings us to humility and repentance with the Law and lifts us up again to new life, cleansed and comforted by the Gospel. We hear our sins delivered up and forgiven in Confession and Absolution. We touch, taste, and see the very Body and Blood of Christ, given and shed freely for us to feed our starving souls and give us life. We see precious children of all ages enter God’s Kingdom in the waters of Holy Baptism.
The church is not a building. It is not a social club made up for perfect people to display their talents or obedience once weekly. It is not the sum of a congregation’s music, a pastor’s talents, squabbling members, altar cloths, small group studies, mission opportunities, or size. The church is Heaven on earth—where the eternal God comes down to meet us in Word and Sacrament.
The church is a family, comprised of all those adopted by God and made His heirs through Christ’s sacrifice. Its members reflect the light of God like mirrors in the darkness. It is a community—a house of living stones. Within it, we, as imperfect living stones, can support and uplift each other only because we rest on Christ, the perfect cornerstone. Whether you find yourself far from your home congregation, in a small town, or in a big city, the church remains constant. You can find the church by these marks: the Word spoken and taught in its truth and purity and the Holy Sacraments of Communion and Baptism. You can find true comfort in this reality about the church, no matter what your age.
Jessica Jenson is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Marcus, Iowa and is a graduate of Concordia University Chicago’s deaconess program.