It struck me today during church that there is something so fitting to be assembled with people who hold the same beliefs as me saying, in effect, in unison "isn't our God beautiful?" Say what you want about group think or brainwashing, to corporately praise something, especially the thing that you believe is the most deserving of praise is fulfilling, satisfying. It does a body good, also.
After our service this morning, in preparation for Lent, we had a forgiveness ceremony. During this service every person in the church says to every other person, "please forgive me if I've offended you," while bowing to the other person, who then says the same thing back. Both exchange a kiss on both cheeks, then one more for good measure (we are Trinitarian, after all) while saying, "I forgive you (in the name of Christ)." Awkward as this was, it made me think of learning how to dance with my wife. As we went around the circle I found myself moved by the love of each member in our small Parrish. Jesus Christ was truly, really there. I heard a Catholic speaker say once that, next to the Eucharist, your neighbor is the holiest thing presented to your senses. I felt that way today.
I have more to say on the topic of membership, but I'll wrap up for now with a small excerpt from C.S. Lewis' lecture of the same title:
No Christian and, indeed, no historian could accept the epigram which defines religion as "what a man does with his solitude." It was one of the Wesleys, I think, who said the New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion. We are forbidden to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. Christianity is already institutional in the earliest of its documents. The Church is the Bride of Christ. We are members of one another.