Friday is Independence Day and one of the freedoms that I most cherish is the freedom to worship as God leads us. The precept that makes this possible is the separation of church and state. Much debate has been offered around how the state should be separate from our faith, but I have been pondering just what we mean by church.
When we use the word church we have several meanings in mind. The word comes from old and middle English and is based on the old Greek word for "Lord's." When we use it sometimes we are talking about a building, sometimes we are talking about a worshiping community, sometimes we are talking about a denomination (such as Roman Catholic, United Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.). Some times we are talking about an experience of faith or worship, and other times we are talking about nothing more than a time (I'll see you after church).
So what do we mean when we use the word church? I think that for Christians we still mean what the word originally meant, that which is of "The Lord." When we use it to speak of a building, we mean a place that it is set apart for worshiping our Lord. When we use it to speak of a faith community, what we mean is a community of believers that are Christ's. When we use the word to speak of an experience we mean a time when God's presence is especially realized.
This Independence Day as we celebrate our freedoms let us be mindful that our right to worship as God leads us is among our most valuable freedoms.