The pastor says they sit front and center. The gay boys. Sometimes they hold hands. And some folks have said he should address the issue. But the pastor tells me he doesn’t know what to say. And then there’s the man who sneaks in the back door. Fresh off the street. After the service starts. And leaves before alter call. The people sitting close complain about how bad he smells. Of beer and smoke and sweat. But the pastor tells me he doesn’t know what to say. And then there’s the young mama who wears dirty skin and lets her four children come in and eat all the donuts and drink all the watered-down juice. Some church staff say they “…eat like little pigs. Like they haven’t eaten in weeks.” While the mama just stands there and lets them. And the elders say something must be done and said. But the pastor tells me he doesn’t know what to say. And there’s the whore sitting among the faithful. And everybody knows her. She sits with a painted-up face, cheap perfume, and a broken heart. And those who sit close, well, they all treat her for what they think she is. And at the last staff meeting, her name came up. Something must be done about her. But the pastor tells me he doesn’t know what to say.
The pastor is a good man. Holy and just. And he wants to do the “right and loving” thing. And he wants to “look like Jesus”. And he asks me if I have any thoughts on anything he could say.
Yes, sweet Pastor. I do.
Start with this and say it Louder than any other words:
“Welcome to Church. This is a place of love and hope and safety and forgiveness. We will be food for the hungry. Living water for the thirsty. We are so glad you are here. You are invited. You are loved. Come on in—we’ve been waiting on you. Welcome here. We are the church.”
Say that. To the called and to the called-out. To the leaders and the greeters. To the dirty and the clean. We are all the same. We are.
May we blow the dust of religion out of our souls and choose affection instead. May our words and actions and reactions be a sanctuary for all.
Jesus broke many laws (man’s law not God’s law) to love. So, Jesus, be our voice. Be the only words we should ever speak.