Moving In – An Introduction to Embrace Church
I think I had a perfect introduction to my new ministry.
Last week I was moving some of my books into my new office at Embrace Church. As I was pulling boxes full of seminary texts, commentaries, and my talking Jesus doll (yeah, like you don’t have a Jesus doll that quotes the KJV) out of the trunk of my car I was approached by a man rambling pretty incoherently. I should back up a minute and mention that I really do not like hot weather, and it was one of the first hot days of summer. I had already taken in one load and I was covered in sweat. I just wanted to get the next load in and cool off for a minute without any distractions. It is fair to say that I was more than slightly annoyed.
I engaged the man, feigning interest in his mumbling at first. After a minute he asked me if I could take him in the building to get a drink of water. I closed my trunk, pushed the cart full of books up the ramp to the front door of the church and invited the man in. I asked the administrative assistant where I could get a cup for the man. He followed me into her office and started semi-angrily talking about how he had been kicked out of this church before. As best as I could understand he was trying to tell us that he was a good guy and that it was only a misunderstanding, but then he recounted the incident (still in rambling fashion). Apparently some weeks earlier he had brought a knife to church and taken it out. He told us that he meant no harm, but by this point I was thinking it might be time for me to ask him to leave as well.
I found out later that this man had indeed showed up one Sunday morning and barged into one of the classrooms, wreaking of alcohol. He then, apparently, took out a knife and started waiving it around. Fortunately, a wise, older lady in the congregation was able to calm him down by offering to pray for him and they were able to escort him safely out of the building.
On this day he didn’t show us a knife, nor did I feel particularly threatened, but I am pretty sure I felt compassion for him. As he drank his water and continued to tell me about “the misunderstanding” I looked at him with less annoyance than when he first approached me in the parking lot. I hope I looked on him with love. I am not entirely sure I did, but I know this: In this ministry, I am right where I am supposed to be! I am once again learning to love the “outcasts,” and being opened up to what God will teach me through their presence. May I have the eyes to see Jesus in each face.
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