In the Church's Lap
Creation resounds with affirmations from God of its goodness.
When He looks on the the earth and the seas: "He saw that it was good." And again the vegetation and the trees: "He saw that it was good." And so on, culminating in the crowning declaration: "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1.31).
There is only one thing in the world before the Fall that is not good. Having made Adam, the first man, and situated him among the various and sundry creatures, God looks on with concern and says, "It is not good for man to be alone."
We are created for community.
God has made us to be social animals. We all know this intuitively, experientially: that human life well lived is a matter of relationships.
Strange, then, how often Christians are tempted to treat their spirituality as a solitary, "me-and-Jesus" endeavor. For instance, when people opine that they needn't attend the Divine Service because they can worship in the woods or the backyard or on the golf course.
Be that as it may (though I'm doubtful about how many worshipers are on the links), it misses a fundamental point: the God who created you for community has also redeemed you to belong to the community of the Church. As St. Paul writes, "For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12.13).
In other words, the family of faith is not just some nice value added to a basically individualistic experience; it's part and parcel to our discipleship and sanctification.
Luther expressed this beautifully in the Large Catechism.
In his section on the 3rd Article of the Creed—"I believe in the holy Christian Church"—he writes this: "The Holy Spirit first leads us into his holy community, placing us in the Church's lap, where he preaches to us and brings us to Christ" (LC II.37).
Notice the progression here: first we come to be part of this "holy community" of the Church, and then we are brought to Christ—"in the Church's lap." Belonging begets believing.
The Reformer will go on to refer to the Church as "the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God." The implication is clear: we can no more dispense with the Church than we can dispense with our moms!
This, too, is part of the good news.
Not only has Christ forgiven and renewed us individually, He has also poured out His Holy Spirit and gathered us together into this holy community called "church."
Within the Church we are nourished in faith as we receive God's gifts in Word and Sacrament. Within the Church we fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another's burdens (Galatians 6.2). Within the Church we are built up as the Body of Christ in order to bear the love of Christ to our neighbors.
To quote once more from the hymn I mentioned on Sunday, "Forth in the Peace of Christ We Go":
We are the Church; Christ bids us show
That in His Church all nations find
Their hearth and home where Christ restores
True peace, true love to all mankind. (LSB 920:5)
Because it's still not good for man to be alone.