Originally posted Dec. 23, 2010, at Ephphatha. Republished with permission of the author.
Last Sunday we had a visitor in church who has stuck with me all week.
We frequently have visitors and all are special, but this gentleman, because of some things he said, has continued to be in my thoughts.
One of our staff members greeted the man because she knew him and asked him “what was going on” and if he was ”checking us out.”
He responded with what I think is an amazingly deep response. He said, “It’s more like I’m checking me out. It’s not so much about what is going on but what isn’t.”
When she shared with me her encounter, I was struck by what he said and also was moved to hope that our congregation would welcome him and also help him check himself out.
In some ways, no in many ways, that to me is part of what the role of the church community is — to help folks meet God and in so doing find a way to meet themselves.
The community (there is that darn word again) has the calling (I believe) to walk with the people of the community on that sacred journey of introspection. Furthermore, when the introspection creates the painful reality that we so often see, the community is called to help the individual walk through the pain.
All of this rambling leads me to wonder, does the church do that — does our congregation at Advent Lutheran Church do that? And does the church at large do that intentionally enough?
Or do we focus too much on programs, tasks that must get done, bigger buildings and so on so that we lose sight of the need to be in the space where man meets himself (or herself) and God is there with him/her?
In the end I don’t know the answer, and I think that is just fine. But I now (thanks to the gentleman who found our congregation last week) have the desire to push the issue of what kind of welcome and space we create as a body.
When someone comes into our sacred space of community with their sacred space of individual what do they find? If it is anything other than a place to be loved as themselves and discover more about this God-them relationship, I believe we are failing.
So here’s to a new year where together the church I serve will be pushed to think about this and actually live into it — here’s hoping.
Peace, love, and grace to you all.
Find a link to Justin Grimm’s blog Ephphatha at Lutheran Blogs.