Setting up for church...we need each other.
I am sure that you are curious about this title. This was a realization that I came to years ago, but I came up with this title today in church. Let me take you into what I saw this morning...
I was sitting on the front row as I always do. Behind me there were three older women. Two African American women in their 60s and a much older white lady - probably in her late 80s. They sit together every week. This fact alone lights my spirit up. Growing up they wouldn't have been in the same church much less been able to be friends. What a beautiful thing progress is.
Fast forward to the offering. At this point the band is playing, but everyone is sitting while the ushers pass the offering baskets. While we are all sitting down, I notice a man who sits against the wall in the corner at the front. He is a middle aged man who is divorced. I guess he didn't have anyone to sit with so he just sat against the wall where he had been worshiping. I noticed him as I was handing the offering basket to the person next to me. The old lady behind me saw him to. To my shock, she stood up on her wobbly feet. With her beautifully hunched back she carried herself across the front of the church. She had this man in her sights. She had him in her heart. With what appeared to be great pain, she bent down to him. I don't know what she said, but tears welled in his eyes and a grateful and somewhat embarrassed smile touched his face.
Together they walked back to her row. The band was finishing up and he took a seat on the row with this older lady & her two friends. They welcomed him with big smiles and warm gestures. Squished in a space that normally accommodates 3 people, this new family of 4 settled in.
I turned around because this mans tears and the ladies kind faces made me start to tear up. As I wiped my face I noticed the shoes of the man next to me. Shiny loafers with khaki socks that matched his Dockers. They belonged to the Baptist missionary who was the guest speaker this morning. His message was powerful & I listened with eager ears the whole time. There was a tender smile on my face as I listened to the four voices behind me "Amen" and " Uh Huh" the preacher.
How beautiful. This building full of people who don't belong together. Races that have historical division, socio-economic gaps, married, singled, denominational differences. All crowded into our rows, but making space for each other. Making space for our differences. For our backgrounds and preferences. How beautiful is the Church.
We all need each other. That middle aged divorced men needed an elderly widow to take his hand and walk him to a place where he belonged. On a row with her two black friends. I needed a clean cut Baptist to stir me for the Word of God in a fresh way. We need each other.
The Church needs our differences. We find so many things to argue about. We all think we are right and fight to prove it. We write articles about whether Jesus would have been a Democrat or a Republican. If it is or isn't the end times. Can we drink alcohol and follow Jesus? Exactly what is the role of women & husbands or wives...so many reasons we criticize each other.
It's ridiculous. I'm pretty sure Jesus wouldn't have been a Democrat or Republican. Perhaps He would have been in support of a theocracy, but my money is on Him just being a king. We come up with reasons why we don't need each other. We disqualify one another based on our arrogance.
The beauty of the Church is that we can all belong to it. The power of the cross is that we all need it. The joy of heaven is that it is all of our home.
I love the Church. I love the diversity of opinion and strengths. To do what God is calling us to do in this generation we need each other. We need the old ladies welcoming the lonely. We need people like me wearing my Urban Outfitters clothing to listen to a Baptist pastor & soak up his wisdom. We need humility and honor in place of judgement and pride. We need Jesus at the center. We need each other.