In a monarchy the king’s death is often memorialized with the words, “the king is dead, long live the king!” This reminds people of the continuity of the monarchy. One king is dead but the king lives on, in his heir.
I drove by a Christian congregation the other day, and it had a sign on it that church was closed. That caused me to think a little bit. My conclusion was that the building may be closed due to the current pandemic, but Christ’s Church won’t close until He returns.
Christ’s Church didn’t close when Saul, later to be know as Paul, was muttering murderous threats, the Church didn’t close when Nero the Roman Emperor sought to destroy the Christian faith. The Church didn’t close for Nietzsche’s quip that God was dead. The Church remains stubbornly defiant that we know the way and the truth and the life is Jesus Christ in the face of postmodernists claims that truth is negotiable. The Church didn’t close for the plague, and the Church won’t close for the Corona virus. We might, as we have done in the past, not be in our buildings temporarily, or even permanently, but the Church will not simply close.
The Church is not ours, but Christ’s. He assures us that there will never be a time that His Church will truly close. It will remain until He returns. The Church will gather around Jesus’ Word and Sacraments wherever these can be found. Christ’s Church has done this through plague and famine, through disaster and hostility.
Jesus’ Church has gathered, and will gather, if not in person then remotely. Christ’s Church will be there if the Word is preached online or in the building. Christ’s Church will revel in our Baptism and look forward to gathering around Christ’s Supper. We love our building, but that is not Christ’s Church. We would be Christ’s Church anywhere Jesus’ is because we know that He has the words of eternal life. Where else would we go.