We call the park benches that are behind our worship table the "back pews" of Worcester Fellowship. Folk who sit there generally are eating their lunch, visiting with friends, hanging out.
As I was walking around sharing the peace during worship on Sunday one of the guys on the back pew asked me a question. "Did you say that it is ok to worship idols?" he asked. "Because the bible says it is not ok, I can show you where". He picked up his Bible to demonstrate.
I had indeed read fifteen basics of Hinduism as one of the two readings prior to my sermon. One of the fifteen basics was in fact about worshiping idols, and I had preached on the ways that some people think one way, other people think another. I was surprised he had heard so much of what I had said.
"Yes, I said that different people believe different things about idols."
"It is wrong to worship idols. It says here in the bible." He touched the bible again, but he was not getting forceful, in fact he was saying it more as a question.
I thought quickly and decided to take a risk. "Well what I said in the sermon is that it is OK for Hindus to worship idols. And it is not ok for Christians and Jews to worship idols. It is one of the ways our rules are different from each other."
"Oh, is that what you meant. I didn't understand. That is what I say at my church. If you come to my church and you don't believe exactly what they say they will throw you out. But here, people who believe different things are welcome. And I tell them, at my church, you can't be mean to people just because they believe different things. You can't tell people what to believe, they have to figure it out for themselves, you know?"
"Yeah, I know. I'm glad you are here." I shook his hand.
"Oh, I like to come. Peace be with you."
"Peace be wtih