Monday, November 11, 2013

Why We Come

We sit in the very last row, the high November sun filtering through glass stained green. I never saw myself in a stained glass church.

For nearly a year we've filed into the wooden pew several rows up, but the vantage point is different today, row after row of fluffy white curls, rhinestone brooches, hearing aids. And these people are changing who I am, the way I see the world and myself. They're changing the way I see my God.

I lost interest years ago in the debate between traditional and contemporary. I don't so much care if the announcements go long or if communion is passed from the left or the right. Still, I was never good at articulating what it was I was looking for at church, so I was never good at knowing if I had found it.

But I feel alive and known in this misfit community.

I watch the young guy singing in the choir, his burgundy robe covering faded jeans and a Cubs t-shirt. He waves goodbye to us after service, a cigarette dangling from his tenor lips.

Two teenagers hand me a chunk of bread dipped in juice, the same two teenagers I saw walking down the alley with their arms tangled up. She looks me dead in the eye, "Christ's body, broken for you". Her hair is wild and I know she is living one thousand different hurts. She wounds and is wounded. Just like me. I see my brokenness in their faces and I want to grab hold of them, because it suddenly seems like our chances of making it to shore are better if we tread water together.

I swallow down all of the grace, all the Life, all of my salvation and it has never made more sense. Our voices rise up together, a mash-up of different lives, different world-views, different generations, different colored collars. It doesn't even matter a little. "If you tarry 'til you're better, you will never come at all."

We're the best at nothing. We will never rock your world. We're not top-notch or trendy.
We are feeble. Failing. Quick with a hug.
We're clinging. Sometimes questioning.
We are beggars.

But we come, hearts on sleeves, grumpy at times, and always very sure of our need.

We come because we find Jesus in our messed-up midst.
We come because we don't have to pretend.