I went to get a COVID-19 swab test.
In my part of Brisbane city, following the COVID-19 outbreak at the Wacol Youth Detention Centre, people were advised to consider if they needed to be tested. This was highlighted with the contact tracing that showed how various people who were infected with COVID-19 had been in common public places such as shopping centers. This included Indooroopilly Shopping Centre where I get my mail and where I regularly shop.
So, on the afternoon of Monday August 24th, I joined a very long line, with many other folk of the South East City Area, waiting for a very long time to receive our “swab test” (as I write this, I have not yet received notification of the outcome of the test). I thank God that in our country we can have free and open access to this kind of testing.
When I finally arrived at the actual swab-testing point, I first had to confirm again my personal details with the nursing staff person at the temporary desk. “Name?” “Paul Smith.” “Middle name?” “Mark.” Next, I gave details of address and phone number. Then, I was caught unawares, with a sense of delight, when the nursing staff person asked, “Religion?” On autopilot, I smiled and replied “Christian” (I don’t know why they were asking about a person’s religion).
We are Christian. We bear the name of Christ, given to us in our baptism. We belong to the Church of Jesus Christ.
Last Sunday, in the Gospel reading, we heard the Lord of the Church himself tell us something of what it means to be “Christian”. He said, “I will build my Church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16).
There is profound promise and hope, in that one little word: “MY”. The Church does not belong to us. The Church does not belong to an organization. The Church does not belong to a country or to an empire. The Church belongs to Christ Jesus. He has gathered us into his Church, through the waters of baptism, to bear his name. So we are “Christian”. This is not only our religion, but it is our identity.
There is one more profound promise in what the Lord said in Matthew 16. He said “I will build my Church.” Our Lutheran Church in Queensland is an example to you, of the Lord keeping that promise. The Lord who spoke those words so long ago in first century Palestine, has kept this promise up to this very time, to this very place.
And throughout all times of “cloud and sunshine”, our gracious and loving Lord Jesus will continue to keep his promise. He will be at work in and through the people of the Christian Church, until he comes again at the end of time.
“Come Lord Jesus, come, into this weary world. O, how we long for you, to come, Lord, come.”