It was an interesting day.
Earlier today I noticed a man walking down the street stick his hands down his pants. Scratching at his butt. Not an itch but a full on hand completely down the pants butt scratch. He seemed oblivious to the fact that a million and one people were in fact watching him as he strolled from their cars, their buildings, from wherever. He was 100% confident and I was strangely impressed.
Later while walking through the mall I watched a group of teens loudly, rudely enter the space of a man who as much older than they. They didn’t notice, didn’t see. A little explicit in actions, slightly inappropriate they were caught up in themselves and completely ignored him while going about their business. He was able to witness it all and looked a little uncomfortable.
After lunch with my Gran at the food court while throwing out our garbage, I happened to run into a man who is known for being afraid of women. He won’t talk to them. He’s kind of afraid of them. He nodded at me and I smiled, he smiled back. This was a big step for him.
While my Gran was trying on pants at a store that was closing I noticed the sadness in the sales associates eyes. As I got my iced chai latte I noticed the anger behind the baristas eyes and heard it in her voice. I witnessed pain. I saw loneliness. I saw life uncovered.
These were just a few pieces of a day in this world that surrounds me. I was surrounded by people. Some happy, others sad. Some anxious, others confident. Some lonely, so very lonely. Some sad, so very sad. In the midst of all these things where do people turn when they need someone? Where do they turn when faced with a problem that seems insurmountable?
One used to say the church. A place where anyone can go, but could they? My friend Ray stated today on his blog that people in the church “often find ourselves looking down on those who are not. There really is a standard of dress in most places, often unstated. We really wonder about folk who look or talk or act differently from what we consider the norm.” We are not really a place for anyone. We are a place for people like ourselves.
So where do people turn? Who do they turn to?
If Jesus was here he’d seek them out, help them and be there with them. If Jesus was here he’d do it, he’d take care of things. It would be a lot easier if Jesus was here, wouldn’t it? It would mean we could just let him deal with things, let him take care of these people. The problem is Jesus told us to “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Jesus told us to act. To go out into the world. To find people. When you do this you often run into people who aren’t like you, people who are different. and we’ve already established that the church doesn’t like people who are different so we’re stuck, what do we do?
Where do we turn? Who do we look to for answers?
I guess we’ve got to go with Jesus. But Jesus asks for commitment. Jesus asks for everything. Are we willing to do that?
I want to.
I want to help create a space where all can come.
I want to feel the Holy Spirit in our midst as we work with God.
I want to minister in real ways, relevant ways to people who need something different, something new.
I want to live and practice what Jesus commanded us to do, knowing that he will be with us.
Will you join me?