Every Sunday we gather at 2 pm for a church service.
This past Sunday was no different, except that we had more people than usual: some sat cross-legged on the floor, others settled onto couches or chairs. I was almost late having been caught in a traffic jam and arrived to this crowd good-heartedly waiting for things to begin. Everyone helped get things set up within a matter of minutes. Though I arrived at 1:54 (!) we started at 2:06. It’s true that whatever we do, we do together.
For those of you who haven’t joined us before, we are a diverse group. Some of us are single and working, some are families with little ones, some are living rough outside, some are dealing with a disability, etc. Despite our differing circumstances we share this: we are very human AND created in the image of God.
Yesterday the pain was palpable in the room. Without unfairly sharing too much, during the prayer time people talked about how hard life can be. Some spoke of extensive loss; of too much death; of broken relationships; of poverty. One acknowledged that he just doesn’t get it- where is God in all this hell? People openly wept.
In and through this something remarkable happened: we landed on holy ground. There was nothing any of us could do except listen to the pain, gather close and pray for one another. It was emotional, vulnerable and REAL. For some it was maybe too much and meant leaving early, though I saw those same people today and they each intend to be back. This journey can require the baby-est of steps.
One person expressed their gratitude that “there’s a church like this that can even welcome a heretic like me”. Yes. Heretics like all of us. None of us have it right. The truth is, we are each capable of not conforming to what is good and acceptable and pure. Too often the church is the last place we go.
May it start to be the first.