Just another Sunday
I found this piece of short fiction I had composed a few years earlier. I thought I would share it today.
It was a just a typical end of a Sunday morning service. One that was acted out thousands of times across the world that day, in churches of all size and color. I was done with speaking the words God gave me, and so I turned to step down the stairs to the floor in front of the stage. As I prayed, I turned to look at the piano player, who softly begins playing. Just like riding a bike. It almost always went down the same way. But today was different. We sang the first verse and were starting in on the last one, when a man rose to walk down the aisle.
People had walked down our aisle for years, but this one was different. As soon as he got up, you could tell what was different about him. The way he walked and carried himself told you he was different. Then there was his outfit. Boy was that ever a dead give-away. I had been around enough people like him to know what was going on. As he walked down, people began to stare. Even with every head bowed and every eye closed, this man was hard to miss.
I knew that someday this was going to happen. We had been seeing in increase of this type of people. Although everyone has I guess. Just a sign of the times we live in.
I am a professional, and I could handle any situation, so as he came closer, I let my associate handle the end of the service. As I began to talk to this man about why he came forward, I just began to feel sorry for him. The way he talked, and the conversation we had just made my heart drop. Years of self doubt, self-hatred, and abuse led him to the path he was on. I told him that Christ could change him, wanted to change him, if he would give his heart to him. We talked some more, and bowed our heads for him to pray.
Now came the hard part. To stand before the church and ask for his acceptance into membership. The offering was over, people were reminded to pick up their salad bowls from the potluck, and I stood to address this church.
“This man has come forward today to accept Christ. He prayed to receive Christ, and I ask that we receive him into membership”
The crowd was as silent, until one woman raised her hand. That woman, the one that every church has.
“I don’t think we should allow someone like that in here,” she said as calmly as if discussing the weather. Many people shook their heads, some in agreement, and others in anger and disgust. “He is obviously living in sin,” she continued “and I don’t want someone like him around my children, they might pick up things from him.”
By now the crowd noise has gone from a murmur to a roar. Some people were already getting up to leave, not wanting any part of it. Others settled in their seats with popcorn and milk duds, getting ready to watch the show.
“Well, I think we need to examine scripture on this” I stated, trying desperately to stop the hemorrhaging, as I could tell she had many on her side. “Jesus says…”
“Jesus told them to go and sin no more,” someone else stands up and yells. We come here to be safe from the ways of the world, and I don’t want him around my children.”
“Jesus said to love our neighbors, and no sin is worse than another,” I countered. I felt my blood pressure rising, and the man standing next to me slowly turning his back on Christ, because of some stupid simple minded people.
“We don’t have to get cleaned up before we come to Christ, we just simply come, and trade our filthy rags for robes of righteousness. Christ hung out with lepers and prostitutes and tax collectors, and Christ would stand by this man today,” I thundered in my best preacher voice.
The room fell silent, and I spoke in a clear calm voice. “If this man is not accepted by this church, this man who though his sin and scars and pain may be very real, is a child of God. He is covered by his grace and righteousness, and is now my brother. If he is not accepted here, I can no longer be your pastor.”
The gasp was audible, from all members and my family in the front pew.
“Fine, someone shouted from the back. “Shut up”, some yelled back at them.
I ended up leaving that day. I could not take being around that hatred anymore. Christ died for all, no sin is worse than another. That man that day had a lust that consumed him, and he grew weary of trying to fight it. Society told him it was okay, that he was probably born that way. I know from talking to him that he tried hard to fight it his whole life. He didn’t want to be that way; it was hard for him to fit in with his friends, when he was so different. He would sneak out late at night, just to feed his lust. But Christ can help him. Just because someone walks with heavy labored breathing and a cane, or because they wear sweat pants and t-shirts, because that is the only kind of clothes they can find, does not mean we should shun them. God loves everyone, even the obese.