I gathered twelve boys and girls from across the street. Tonight was water night. Smiles and waves greeted me from parents and children alike. In a way, it was like gathering twelve more disciples to follow Jesus. We crossed the busy road together and assembled in front of the church with a large cadre of other children from the neighborhood and from the city. Fifty-five children in all. Ready to get wet. I looked at them as they gathered on the grass in front of the church. For a moment I had a small sense of what Jesus might have felt as he looked on those who follow him. I was moved with compassion.
They were restless to begin the activities, so I did not delay. I sat them on the grass and proceeded to open with prayer and a Bible story. I told the story of Moses parting the Red Sea, and the Egyptians who dared attempt to follow the Israelites. And, just when I yelled out that the water came crashing down on the Egyptians, a thick stream of water rained down on the kids from behind them. They melted into a puddle of giggles and laughter. And then the water games began. I will be posting photos soon on my other blog to show all the fun we had. The address to that blog is glenwoods.blogspot.com. I am using it strictly for photos for now.
During the night I had a small child come onto our campus unattended by his parents. I walked him back to his apartment. While there four adults asked if I worked at the church. I informed them that I am the Children’s Pastor. One of them, a lady, asked if we accepted donations of toys. She said they are moving and needed to get rid of them, but that she desired to give them to needy children rather than the goodwill. I said that I would be glad to take a look at them.
I invited them also to check out our church if they didn’t have a church home. And that is when the margins began to be redrawn. I was not sure what response I would receive. But I was very interested to hear what they had to say. One of them, a man, asked if we believed in the Trinity, God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. I said, yes, absolutely. Another, the lady, mentioned that some of her neighbors believe that Jesus was just a prophet and nothing more. She asked if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I said that yes, we certainly do. “In fact,” I said, “we believe he died on the cross for our sins, rose again bodily three days later, and is coming back again.” They nodded their heads collectively, cigarette smoke from one of the men dancing lazily over the thoughtful expressions on each of their faces. I continued, “You know, I have a regular job just like each of you. I don’t hold office hours at the church. I work as a warehouseman and forklift driver. I have attended this church for over thirteen years and they have welcomed me with open arms. We will do the same with you if you come, so please feel welcome to check us out. You can go to our website or you can contact us any time. I would be happy to talk more with you about it as well.” I smiled and then shook each of their hands. They smiled, too.
Over the years I have fielded lots of questions from prospective church attenders. Will it be fun for my kids. Will it meet my needs, whatever they might be. Does it offer features which appeal to my sensibilities. I honestly cannot recall, before tonight, a single time when someone has questioned me about the the theological orthodoxy of my church. It’s about time. These are people who seem to care more about faithfulness to God’s Word, than church activities which might meet their specific needs. How refreshing. I learned from them. The margins were redrawn by their having reached into the margins to me so that I might be challenged and encouraged to greater faithfulness to Jesus Christ by them. Who is being missional now?