So I’ve been asked to give a sermonette this Sunday at our church in Paris, if you can imagine that. Each year the First Christian Church in Paris, TX celebrates “Laity Sunday,” which is a clever way to give the ordained clergy a day off. Someone has to fill in for these ordained slackers, and I drew the short straw.
While my mind seesaws between sermon ideas, the underlying question that keeps dogging me is “what am I doing here?” I have not been a regular church attender for many years, having concluded that there really was no church that was as broad-minded as I had become. And yes, the hubris in that statement is duly noted.
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 that. 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 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!
I have decided, much to my surprise, to join in the experiment and see how long they let me stay.