I’ve been a little tough on the church lately. I suppose, for me, the church is a lot like my family, and thus I treat them like so. It is a difficult thing to love something, some people, so much you see the things that God wants for them. Sometimes you end up seeing the could be as the should be and then judge the space in between as failure. Failure of the person, failure of the belief, sometimes even failure of your God. It is a difficult thing sometimes to pray and live “as earth as it is in heaven.” The should be, the could be, the one day will be, it is sometimes difficult to tell what is what and what is your responsibility to be worried about.
Late this summer the Hughes family started going to our church that can only be described as “good people.” The first women’s Bible study Sarah (the mom of the Hughes clan) attended she asked how my week had been and I burst into tears. She immediately offered to bring me a meal that week and then started laughing. “Hi, I’m your Baptist friend Sarah, and I can make you a chicken.” Is there a faster way to my heart than self deprecation?
When they invited our church to come serve the homeless for Thanksgiving, I decided it sounded like a worthy way to spend Thanksgiving morning. Last year Christian had to write all morning, so I thought it sounded like a good way to burn the morning while leaving him a quiet house to write.
Christian was able to join us this year and we all took off to drive through the Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast before heading downtown. Did you know that crazy people run half marathons on Thanksgiving day? We do because it took about twenty minutes to find a way around them and to our destination.
The day was beautiful and the volunteers abundant. More than one to one volunteer to homeless person means that every person had someone to talk to them, look them in the face, say and mean “I am glad you are here. I hope you have a good holiday.” Christian manned the mashed potatoes while I wrangled the girls. I may have gotten yelled at by a homeless man to get my baby out of the dirt and wash her hands! I may have scooped her up only until he had his backed turned.
The day was wrapping up and we were all putting away the folding chairs when I heard someone calling for women’s shoes. Some of the people from the Hughes’ other church had brought some things to give away, and Gina had come and eaten and had no shoes. She needed a nine or nine and a half. I wear a nine.
Moments later I was one of the women surrounding Gina in some sort of inverse Cinderella scene. One by one these women took of their shoes to see which one would fit this woman’s foot best. Suburban southern women, with their lipstick, just so hair and “bless her hearts” were peeling off their shoes in the middle of a parking lot downtown hoping that they could give away the shoes off their feet. I heard one women demanding to know the shoe size of her teenage girl’s Ugg boots. Gina walked away in a new pair of tennis shoes, and a pair of sparkly ballet flats that had an impressive name written across the sole.
Tonight, I am thankful for the brokeness, for my brokeness, for the way God uses broken people to mend brokeness in the world. I am thankful for the church, for what God calls it to be, and that this Thanksgiving morning I saw the church in all her glory, taking off their shoes on holy ground.