We started with a song and then turned to greet those around us. I shook hands with two women sitting just behind me who made it abundantly clear they were lesbians. How brazen of them, I thought.
We continued to sing. I heard them behind me singing loudly. Songs about our need for salvation and about Jesus being the hope of the world.
The guest speaker talked about the stroke that took everything from him. His speech was labored by aphasia, but he shared his deep understanding of how much Jesus loves us, even when we have nothing to offer.
And I could hear the two women behind me sniffling.
It was powerful.
Next we prayed a prayer of confession. I confessed my sins to God – my pride, the lust I constantly fight, my greed. I wondered what those women confessed.
Then, we took communion. I tore off a piece of gluten-free bread, then had a momentary crisis trying to decide which cup to dip my bread into. My religion kicked in and I went with grape juice rather than wine. I started to laugh at myself. How silly am I? Hung up on which cup to dip my bread into for communion.
With my crumbly and soggy piece of bread I stepped into the corner of the room and watched the people. Mostly, I watched those two women.
I thought about us. All of us. We humans who are thrashing about here on this planet trying to find meaning and significance and love and forgiveness and dealing with all sorts of sin and hurt and pain. We are messy, confused people – all of us. Yet, we are all the same and we all need salvation.
Somehow I think that because I hide my sin and shame better (maybe, just maybe) I deserve that salvation a little more. I sing confidently. I confess the sin no one but God and I can see. I go with grape juice for communion, just to be sure.
My skill is to hide mine better than most.
But deep inside I’m a silly, sinful, struggling man who is full of contradictions. I love Jesus but battle my own self-destructive thoughts and actions.
Still Jesus says, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28)
We are not who we should be. Fortunately, we have a God who welcomes us just as we are. We come to confess our sin and he saves us; again and again and again.
Then he begins to change us into the glorious beings he intends us to be.
It’s a slow, painful process.
Ultimately, he shows us that it’s not about us. It’s about Him – the God who is so amazing he gave himself for you and me and the lesbians sitting next to me at church. He loves us and will stop at nothing to make us who he wants us to be.
This is a deep truth.
The deepest truth.
And I will be learning it the rest of my life.
Next time you sit behind me at church, we can have some wine together, and remember the blood that paid the price for us all.
We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18