Homeless And OkaySunday, May 15, 2016
Have you thought about the ministry of Jesus lately? I mean, seriously stopped and thought about what He did and how He did it? Have you noticed that He was on the outskirts of the established religion of the time? Jesus trained as a carpenter, not a rabbi or religious scholar. None of his friends were religious leaders, but fisherman, businessmen and even a doctor. He didn’t have a building where He gathered the people to speak to them. He didn’t even have a home of His own or wealth of any kind. The only collection He took up was five fish and five loaves from a little boy, and to be honest, that wasn’t even Him that collected them, but His disciples. And what did He do with that meager collection? He multiplied it and returned it to the people who had traveled to hear Him speak…
And let’s talk a little about how Jesus spoke to the people. Why were multitudes traveling to hear Him in the first place? What was so different about Him that their tabernacles and rabbis didn’t offer? Freedom. Love. Grace. Hope. Future. And here’s the most important thing: Jesus spoke in a way that made every man, woman, and child deeply loved and valued. He showed them that they were all equally loved in God’s eyes, despite their place in society. He revealed to them how very special they were to The Father. He redeemed those that society had cast out.
This is what I am thinking deeply about this morning because I am not sitting in a church anywhere. My children are playing video games and eating doughnuts. My son is wrapped up in a blanket on the couch lost in some robot game, his fingers sticky. My eldest is still in her bed, long legs splayed and caught up on the bed above her as she watches a show dangling half upside down. My youngest is drinking lemonade and standing in nothing but a diaper. Her hair is a wild mess and tangled badly. They’re not in a children’s program anywhere…
And for a moment, it is really easy for me to listen to the fear whisper to me that I am failing my children. I’m screwing up. I am not teaching them about Jesus…
No. I am not. Not at this very second, at least.
I’m sitting here drinking lukewarm coffee and trying to figure out what to do. I’m wrestling with myself, wrestling with the fear of failing, worrying that I am making incredibly huge mistakes. We’ve always served in churches in the 16 years that we have been married. And at the moment, we’re not in a church at all and I really don’t want to go back.
Now, I want to explain quickly that I deeply love the pastors and the families of those in leadership at every church we have ever served in. I am not angry at them. I hope they are always my friends because I value who they are and honor the way they are giving their lives in service. Just because I can not longer serve beside them does not mean they failed me. It just means that I wasn’t the right person for the job they needed done. It just means that my personality and drive didn’t match up. This is on me, not them. These churches were are wonderful churches! Especially the last one. The last one…man!…it felt like a gift just for me when we first attended. I love those folks with all my heart. Make no mistake of that.
But Roger and I…well, if you’ve met us, you know we are just rebels. We are pains in the butt. We kick around at the rules and we have lots of questions. We would rather hang out with the bad boys and smoke cigarettes in the bathroom (I’ve never done that, actually). We would rather share a pint in a public house with some misplaced friends. We want to create weird art and write words that rip out your heart, destroy it, heal it all up, and then shove it back in your chest. We want to kiss your cheek and rumple your hair. We want to dance without knowing how. We want to jump of bridges and burn religious ones. We want to listen to all the rock and roll and read all the “bad” books…
We are free spirits.
That’s how people describe me all the time. I think that’s because they don’t know what label to stick on me.
But it’s us. It’s Roger and I. It wasn’t the church’s fault that we are homeless now.
Yet here we are. I think we will probably stay here. Not because we are angry. Bruised a little, sure. But we are not angry.
And that’s why my coffee is now cold. This is why I’ve been looking at how Jesus lived out his life and ministry this side of heaven. And I kinda have to just shrug and shelf the fear. I’m okay. We are okay. The way we love God and love others is going to be okay. We don’t all have to be in ministry the same way, so long as we are including all people and loving everyone, despite their race, sexual orientation or their individual religion.
But let us all try very hard to keep the politics and wealth out of it. Let us all try very hard to truly love God and love others with all our heart.
We can all do better.
American Christianity must do better…
I can do better.
I can breathe and not be afraid.
And He loves us so very much.
In a little while, I will clean the doughnut mess off of my children and we will worship for a little while. They will be okay too.