Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

new church memberThe service is winding to a close at First Church. Pastor Dan is standing before his congregation smiling broadly with a gentleman with an olive complexion and a raggedy-looking street person.

Pastor Dan: Now, I’d like to introduce those who have come forward this morning. First (signaling to the gentleman sitting on the front pew), we have Jacob Tashen, who joins us by transfer of his letter from Crestmont Church in Detroit.

They shake hands and Pastor Dan throws his arm over Jacob’s shoulder.

Pastor Dan (addressing the congregation): Jacob, do you wish to join this fellowship and join in the Body of Christ here at First Church?

Jacob: Yes.

Pastor Dan: Congregation, do you accept Jacob into our fellowship and pledge your support as he serves among us?

Congregation (semi-cordially): Yes!

Pastor Dan (taking an index card from his pocket, signaling again to the front pew): Next, we have… uh. Buck Rog…

Bucky (breaking in): Bucky.

Pastor Dan: Uh, Bucky Rogers, who has uh… come to join our church…requesting baptism. Buck, you have…

Bucky (glancing aside): Bucky…

Pastor Dan: Bucky. Have you come forward to tell us you have accepted Christ and want to join First Church through baptism?

Bucky (looking down at his feet): Yes, sir.

Pastor Dan: Congregation, do you accept Buck — Bucky — into our fellowship and pledge your support as he serves among us?

Congregation (a handful of children in front): Yes!

Pastor Dan: Well, what a wonderful morning! After Brother Patterson leads in our benediction I hope you’ll come and greet our new members.

Brother Patterson (in booming bass voice): Father, we thank you for Pastor reminding us that you were with Moses in Exodus as the great I AM and that you prepared him, with his brother Aaron, in the wilderness, after leaving Egypt, to rally the people of God to do your will while crossing the desert, to Sinai, on the way to the Promised Land, to become the genuine, true Children of Israel. And may we be a new Israel…

Ten minutes later.

Pastor Dan has disappeared (to the church front steps) and Jacob and Bucky are standing before the altar.  The children’s choir streams by, shaking hands. A small group of men have gathered to talk by the piano exit. They are shooting concerned glances toward the altar. A small group of women have gathered in back of the church and are glancing furtively toward the front altar. Everyone else ambles toward the exits.

Jacob (standing uncomfortably with Bucky): Uhm. Are you from around here, Bucky?

Bucky: Yep. I’ve lived in this town all my life.

Jacob: Family?

Bucky: Naw. Used to have, but they’re gone. How ’bout you?

Jacob: Me neither. My ministry sent me here a couple months ago.

They stand quietly. They look up as a man enters from the organ side of the sanctuary. The man is dressed in boots, jeans and a blue tee-shirt that says, “I’m with stupid” below a big arrow pointing left.

Man (shaking hands): Hey, Bucky, Jacob, good to see you. I’m Jesus.

Bucky: Oh, man! I’ve seen you in town at the food pantry and Salvation Army Center, but had no idea…

Jacob: Weren’t you at Kelly’s Friday night? You were the designated driver for the immigrant construction crew, right? Your Spanish is spot on.

Jesus: Sure, right. I’ve seen both you guys. Bucky, you’re always taking food to the folks under the railroad bridge on 27. Jacob, you are the new Young Life director — hanging out with high school kids all the time.

Jacob and Bucky nod.

Jesus: Well, I don’t come here often, but wanted to welcome you anyway. Dan is really a nice guy, but you probably won’t talk with him much. The folks here are “good” and don’t know how to deal with different folks.They’re fearful and overprotective, so, Bucky, you won’t last here for long. Jacob, when the youth director finds out you are YL, he’ll feel threatened, so you can expect a bit of pushback from him. Outliers. You are my kind of people.

Bucky: I know, I’ve been run out of churches all my life. Just thought I’d try again.

Jacob: I’m going to try really hard to support the ministry here, but youth directors get nervous because I spend more time with their youth than they do.

Jesus: It’ll all work out. I think I’ll join next week and see what happens. I usually get the boot after a few months, too. We’ll be good for them and they’ll be good for us even if we don’t get along. I don’t waste anything. See you guys next week.

Tr8: Figure out how Bucky and Jacob would fit in your church.

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street_personJesus is in Capernaum at Starbucks with the leading disciples, Peter, James, John, Andrew and Murphy, the non-disciple. They are across the street from Matthew’s customhouse and up the street from the synagogue.

Jesus: I believe I told you guys that I would take care of all the cursing that needed to be done. You’re not supposed to swear. Peter, I saw you when you snagged your thumb in the net and blessed out the nets, the surrounding boats and all the fish in the lake.

Peter (uncomfortably): Well, yes, I understand our arrangement with swearing.

Jesus: So, what’s the deal?

Peter: It was the kind of situation that needed immediate attention and you weren’t there to do the work, so I took it upon myself.

Jesus (smiling): I suppose it’ll be all right. You do have a flair for swearing.

Andrew: I’ll say. He does in cussing what a sculptor does in stone.

Jesus: Let me ask you guys something. When you’re in the market do you hear swearing?

James: Sure. Wherever there are people you hear cursing.

Jesus: What about in the synagogue.

James: Nope. Course not. No swearers in the synagogue.

Jesus: What about beggars and thieves?

John: Definitely in the market. And just about everywhere else.

Jesus: At the synagogue?

John: No. Not in the synagogue.

Jesus: What about gays. Do you ever see gays?

Andrew: The tailor next door, Steve, is gay. He does excellent work.But yeah, they’re around — not a majority — but almost everywhere I go.

Jesus: At the synagogue?

Andrew: No.

Jesus: What about fast women, butchers, boxers, Roman soldiers, tax collectors, sick people, debtors, poor and lost people?

Peter: They’re everywhere.

Jesus: In the synagogue?

Peter: No.

Jesus: What’s wrong with this picture?

Tr8: The church of Jesus’ day was all about truth, but neglected grace. Jesus’ mission was to seek and save the people who rarely darkened the door of a synagogue. Go and do likewise. Maintain truth in a spirit of grace. Open your church and heart to those in need.