“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinth. 13:12)
I am sure many of you remember the old TV comedy called “Cheers”. The setting for the show was an old bar in Boston that was filled with all sorts of odd characters. Despite their obvious differences and sometimes glaring personality flaws, somehow the characters bond together into a kind of family and the bar becomes a place where they feel comfortable and at peace with themselves and one another. In an odd sort of way, a type of genuine human community forms at “Cheers” and the bar becomes a type of home that the characters love to come back to again and again. Cheers becomes the place, as the lyrics to the opening song of the show say, “Where everybody knows you name….and they’re always glad you came.”
Now we know that “Cheers” is a made up place with made up people. Our human hearts, separated from God as they are by sin, all too often do not feel at home or welcome here on the earth – the very place that God meant to be our home. We many times do not feel comfortable even when surrounded by human community or people. Sometimes we do not even feel comfortable in our own skin. God knows and feels the depth of despair and our yearnings for understanding, acceptance and meaning so He sent Jesus to us to meet us here at our point of great need.
The church was created by Jesus to be the place were we gather at His feet and He ministers to our great need. The church is not a gathering of perfected humans or of perfect human community in some idealized sense like at the fictional “Cheers” bar. The church is God’s gathering place where we imperfect and broken sinners can speak openly about our shared human condition, our common experiences of sorrow and joy in this life, without resorting to despair or false piety. To borrow another phrase from the “Cheers” theme song, its where we know “Our problems are all the same”. We can speak honestly about who and what we are in an environment of safety and truth. It’s in this place of mutual need that Christ comes speaking His Words of forgiveness and love to heal us, make us whole, and to renew us as new creations in faith. Church is the place where, in Christ, God becomes God for us.
God’s greatest desire is you. He wants nothing more then for you to know that He forgives you and loves you. Church is place where He gets to say that. Church is the place where the God who knows you fully makes known His true feelings about you. So to steal one last phrase from the “Cheers” theme song, God indeed “knows your name, and He is always glad you came”!