(From Aug. 11th, 2008)
An early leadership meeting. Our pizza place is closed for the summer, so we've been meeting picnic style on the common. Its not optimum, some people are uncomfortable on the ground, if we meet on chairs we are in a row not a circle, so discussion is hard.
So we set up a couple blankets out and walked around and told those hanging out on the benches that our discussion would taking place on the blankets and they are welcome to join us.
One older gentleman came almost 20 minutes early to talk, so we visited with him until 4pm. Another regular from worship arrived right on time and we began with prayer and Bible Study. We are looking at Psalm 133: "how wonderful it is when people live together in unity".
Pizza arrived at 4:30 and we talked about how important eating is to creating community. We also discussed how to drink soda without cups! Six or so people from the surrounding seats came over to join us.
Debbie, a young african american woman who had been at worship for the first time this morning, accepted her pizza but would not sit down. "I don't want to be rude" she said "but how is this church helping the homeless any more than anyone else?"
Yes indeed. How are we helping? I asked myself this question!
I offered something about how we know we aren't providing housing or food, or the things people need the most.
She offered other examples of things we don't do.
I went on to share that we ARE distinctive--that we are outside, so people can drink or walk around, or take a break. That we remind people that God loves them before they get sober. That we welcome all people, including those that are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender, that we welcome people who are still using, that we welcome people with a past history of crimes.
As I was struggling to find something else to say about what we offer Diane spoke up "I'm an alcoholic, and today was the first time I felt like I could stay in church, because I was drunk when I came."
Dave said "I've been sober a long time, but I need to move around. I always come late."
James said "And you guys really listen to us."
Debbie paused, and then pulled up some blanket and sat down.
So Psalm 133: "how wonderful it is when people live together in unity". What would that look like here at Worcester Fellowship? And the dis
A friend recently told me about a dream he had. He was pulled over by a very nice police officer who proceeded to give him three tickets. All three of them were for things he had NOT done. And then he woke up.
"What stood out," my friend explained, "was how very kind the police officer was. I couldn't figure out what to do with the unfair tickets, because the guy was so nice."
Yeah. I began to wonder about my insistence that God is loving.
Imagine for a minute that you believe that God is in control of the universe; that all that happens is perhaps caused by God, or at least that God is ok with it. And then you get three, or six, or twenty-eight hard things added to your life. Ordinary bad things: illness, being laid off from your job, losing a loved one, an accident, your things are stolen.
And then imagine some do-gooder pastor comes by and says "God is love". What on earth does that mean? How does that fit with what you just experienced? Wouldn't it be easier to imagine that God is judgmental, angry, or mean?
If I were to get three unfair tickets while driving I'd really want them to come from someone I could describe as rude, angry, and mean. I especially don't want to be treated unfairly by someone who seems fair, considerate, and kind. I want to rant and rage and demand justice. I certainly don't want someone to tell me that this unfairness is just.
What do you think?
(originally posted by Liz August 22, 2008.)