Jesus in the Church: Something good happened on Sunday
As a people of the “good news” we can spend a lot of time talking about everything else. We need discussions on the struggles and wrongs of the Church, but we need more celebration of the good that Jesus is doing through his Church too. Here’s a start…
Sunday we had a homeless man walk into the sanctuary. This isn’t a strange occurrence at Mountair. A significant percentage of our congregation is either homeless or a couple bad days away from it. What was different was the state this guy was in. He staggered in, barely able to stand, and collapsed into the back pew. When we sang he stood, waving his arms in the air–at least until he toppled back onto the pew. When we prayed he spoke loudly–his words too slurred to be sure if he was talking to God or someone else. He was very dirty and you could smell him from the other side of the room. People could have responded to him as a problem or a man created in God’s image. The response of our people to this man blew me away.
After the service I was by the front door and two people (one of them a man in his 80s) came toward me with their arms around him to make sure he didn’t fall. We got him to sit down in one of the chairs in the entryway. As I greeted the people who were leaving and watched, these two were joined by a few others. By the time I could make my way over to see how I could help they had filled a bag of food for him from the food bank, discovered that he was in a lot of pain, and assured him that we’d help him however we could.
Once I got there, those who had been helping slowly trickled out. They had acted like Jesus toward this man–a man many people would have done everything in their power to avoid (shoot, I would have done everything in my power to avoid him for a large part of my life). As incredible as this was, I wasn’t done being amazed.
A woman who lives down the street from the church, and has faced more than her fair share of pain, remained with me, trying to discern what his broken and jumbled sentences meant. When we got him in my car to take him to the hospital she came along, placing food in his hand and moving it to his mouth because he couldn’t remember it was there. When he became belligerent and demanded that we not take him to the hospital she continually reassured him that we were trying to help. (We did return to the church and called the police/paramedics to come help him since he seemed more willing to go with that option.) When we returned to the church she got his boot off and wrapped his foot in a warm towel. When the paramedics were taking him out on a stretcher and he was scared she gently touched his cheek and assured him it would be okay. I learned something about being a pastor from her in that hour.
I’ve read recently about a lot of hatred, spiritual abuse, and overall lack of love in churches. Pointing these things out needs to be done. I think it’s also worth pointing out the times when Jesus’ love and his way show up in the life of the church. I was thankful to have a front row seat for that on Sunday.