St. Sava Orthodox Church

What Is the Church?

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Scripture Readings

Acts 20:16-18, 28-36

John 17:1-13


From time to time, people ask, “What is so special about the Church?  After all, isn’t it just a place where people get together, sing, read the bible, and pray?  Why can’t I just do those things on my own?”  This is a very good question and deserves to be answered.  For a moment, let’s go back to the story of Noah and the ark.


God commanded Noah to build an ark to save the lives of his family, his sons’ families, and the different kinds of animals in the world, because a flood that would destroy all life was coming.  The only way a person or an animal could be saved from the flood was to be on the ark.  There may have been people who saw the ark and recognized that it was a well-built ship, but their acknowledgement did them no good, because they were outside the ark when the floods came.  Again, the only way to be saved from the flood was to be on the ark.


The Church is sometimes referred to as “The Ark of Salvation.”  Just as the floods destroyed all life on earth, sin and the tricks of the devil are everywhere and threaten to destroy our lives.  It is only in the Church that we can enter the inner life of God through Baptism and Chrismation.  It is only in the Church that we receive God physically in the Eucharist.  It is only in the Church where we can grow into the people God wants us to be.  It is the Church that gave us the New Testament.  Our Lord Jesus Christ gave His authority to forgive sins to His apostles.  By the Holy Spirit, they passed this authority to all bishops and priests, even to this day.  Likewise, He never said, “Just call My Name, and I’ll be there.” He said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.”


In the Church, we are saved together, just as Noah, his family, and his sons’ families were saved together.  We are never saved separately from one another.  St. Cyprian, an early bishop of the city of Carthage, said, “One Christian is no Christian.”  If we want to grow closer to God and become more like Him, we can only do that with fellow Christians in the Church.  The way we behave toward each other is the way we behave toward Him.


  1. How is the Church like Noah’s ark?
  2. What good things can we get only from the Church?
  3. What is important about the way we treat one another?