I am a blogger, which means I write stuff and post it on the Internet. Here’s what I wrote about you this past week.
We stumbled into this little old church in Paris and soon discovered that they are attempting a grand experiment--welcoming anyone and everyone. Based on the half-empty sanctuary on any given Sunday, this experiment has not yet “caught on,” which is unfortunate but perhaps understandable. There are Democrats and Republicans sitting on the same pew; open and proud heterosexuals sharing a hymnbook with open and proud homosexuals; Bible devotees in conversation with people who distrust the Bible, believers in the virgin birth sharing pot-luck suppers with folks who dismissed that notion years ago. It’s a strange group.
Every Sunday, Pastor Charlotte spreads her arms across the communion table and says, “This table is open to all. It is Christ who invites us,” and acts like she means it. Yesterday, a new member, upon hearing about a hateful comment overheard in a café, replied with some exasperation in his voice, “Well until I found this church I would have just condemned that person to hell, but now I’ve learned to just move on over and make room for him at the table!” We cracked up. It’s just so much fun!
And there you have it.
I joined this church because you empower your pastor to proclaim each and every Sunday, “this table is open to all. It is Christ who invites us.”
Let’s put that to the test. Here goes. I am a liberal Democrat who will soon happily vote to re-elect President Obama. I am a straight woman who wholeheartedly supports marriage equality. I have little use for the Bible—I overdosed on it in my youth and it left a bad taste in my mouth, and I most certainly do not believe Jesus’s mother was a virgin.
So, what did I just reveal about myself? Nothing that really matters!
Absolutely nothing that really matters.
I joined this church because I want to belong to a faith community that looks beneath the surface and sees Christ in every human being regardless of their behavior, a church that affirms that Christ leaves no one out, leaves no one behind.
I can’t pretend to understand the width and breadth of God, but this much I know: God is our source. God breathes me, and God breathes you, God is the ground of our being. I know this, not because the Bible tells me so, but because my attempts, both feeble and heroic, to control Life failed. I could not keep my head above water, so I sank, and Love lifted me, and has continued to do so time and time again. I know that God is the ocean, and I am a wave.
And yet, I have a dilemma; I often forget what I know. I resist what I know to be true. I fall back on the strategies and conniving of my fragile, frightened ego-self, who believes treading water with all her might is her only salvation.
This is where you come in.
I greatly benefit from surrounding myself with people who lovingly and gently remind me of the Truth of who we are, and Whose we are. I am emboldened by people who have made the decision to look for the Divine nugget of Love embedded in every person, above and beyond personality, opinions and positions. I need people who love me enough who, when they see me floundering, frightened, or confused, remind me to look within and wait with confidence for Divine clarity. I want to play with people who trust that God’s Love is Reality.
I confess that I had pretty well concluded that church was not the best place to find folks like that. I thought my church days were behind me, for this simple reason; I would never risk entrusting my very human and flawed self into the care of a church that teaches and proclaims that some people are pleasing to God while others are not. I get short of breath when I hear anyone declare that some people are acceptable to God, but other people first need to be cleaned up and straightened out before they can sit at the table.
You had me the first time I heard Charlotte affirm, “this table is open to all. It is Christ who invites us.”
Right now, as we sit in this sanctuary, there is a guy buying a pack of cigarettes at the U Tote M, there’s a slacker kid lying on the couch watching football, there’s a couple having brunch at Bois D’Arc trying to pretend their marriage is still alive, there’s a single mom pushing a cart at Save-A-Lot worried about feeding her children. In a few minutes we will leave this place and go out and walk among them, and we will recognize each one as one of us because we know the truth of who they are and Whose they are. Requiring nothing of them, we will acknowledge them as family. We will do this because it is just so much fun to make room at God’s table!