This morning I prepared communion with Jeff and Judy. As usual we paused to hold hands and prayed over the elements, then the couple left to meet up with some friends. These friends, they explained “do not know the Lord” and so they were hoping to have the right words to say.
Before they headed out of the church, I was asked to pray for their time together. And so, I did.
In my heart I reflected on something Judy had said to me in the kitchen only moments prior as we’d prepared communion…
She and her husband were exasperated, waiting longer than they felt necessary to get their vehicle license plates transferred and registered from one state to another. They expressed a feeling of everything being bungled up by bureaucracy and incompetence.
After she said this, I replied “The days are long past when we only had 25,000 people in the city. Today’s workload is massive, and we need to have a little more patience”.
Judy replied, “But an illegal immigrant can get a license in a day!” It was spoken with such disgust I could not miss her message.
Once they’d headed out to their car, I cleaned up the kitchen area and wheeled the communion elements out to the church sanctuary.
What she had said reverberated in my spirit, thinking to myself about how we, while in the very place where the body is to be love (the church) – put up “walls of us versus them”.
I have heard people in the church use very divisive and judgmental language over and over. The eye of suspicion is turned toward anyone who looks different, like a transient man who entered in to offer praise and worship to the LORD but received mostly ‘watchful observation’ and distancing from the congregation.
As an usher I also hear the murmured comments about sexual orientation, lifestyle and the woes of ‘those people‘, so steeped in sin. The church distances from those people as well.
But it is not always ‘on the quiet’.
In the church parking lot, there is a full-sized white pickup truck covered with all kinds of hateful bumper stickers and messages. The truck is there every week screaming out some of the foulest, alt-right, politically biased defamation. I sometimes wonder if when people drive the lot for the first time, hoping to check out the church, they drive off after reading what is plastered on the tailgate of that truck. His message is a mile-high wall of hate to screen out anyone who believes different. That wall is for everyone to see as they park.
It has never been addressed from the pulpit, as the driver of the vehicle is held in high regard by the people he goes to church with.
It quiets me with sadness. So, I pray.
Not just for privileged white, middle class people. Not only for those who are successful in business. Not exclusively for those who have a perfectly dialed life.
But for all.
Who do we think we are to be putting up walls? That is not being love.
That is called discrimination. (noun: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex)
READ: James 2
And it’s very hurtful to see it in the very church that gathers under your Name.