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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Are you kidding me?

The other day I found myself in an apartment that seemed pretty typical to me. It was leased by one person, but she had a friend and a cousin and her son who were pretty regular visitors, and there wasn't much "stuff" to take up space. It reminded me of my younger days when the furniture we owned consisted of a mattress, a 13 inch TV, and a box to put it on. (Of course, 25 years later, we have more stuff now...but I still miss the box!)

As the single moms talked in the hallway about how cute their kids are, as the guys from the upstairs apartments got ready for work, and the afternoon was humming along, I stepped into the kitchen of one apartment, and saw "the picture." This "picture" is famous in my world because we had a version of the same picture in our house when I was a kid. I remember studying that picture, running my hands over the outline of the figure in it, looking for details hidden in the crevasses of the painting. The "picture" is of Jesus, holding a lamp, opening the door of a garden gate.

So here I am, 47 years old, in a place so different from my childhood I can't even begin to illustrate it...and I am brought back to my teenage years, staring at a picture, wondering if life is even worth living...and it all floods back to me...a tear wells in my eye, a lump forms in my throat, and I am brought face-to-face with me and my God in the most unlikliest of places and circumstances. And although the picture doesn't change the reality of the situation, the leasee who lost her job, the 19 year old neighbor pregnant with her second child, the constant struggle to stay sober...all of it takes place under the watchful gaze of the coming Lord...

Because you see all along I assume when I am in places where I am stepping over beer cans, and wondering when the last time the garbage had been taken out, in places where 20 year old moms watch kids like I watch soap operas (I care, but I'm not sure why.) I can always trap myself into assuming that God forgot about this place. These folks are "lost," and God somehow doesn't ever want to see them have a dream realized, a hope come true, or even someone to tell them they are loved, with no strings attached.

In places such as that I pretty much assume the last person I'd see there was Jesus...and, of course, he's the first one I see. It shouldn't surprise me, as it's happened to me over and over and over these past 47 years...and all the stories we have about Jesus are like this too..where he's not with the popular, powerful, or rich, but with all the lonely and forgotten...but I was suprised--as usual- when the Lord shows up where I least expect him...and what changed was me, because that "picture" reminded me why I am here, in apartment buildings that seems "sketchy" even to the residents...I am here because that's where God is opening the door...and that pregnant mom, and board-shorted young man, and that young woman bleary-eyed at four in the afternoon...they are all part of Jesus...and on this day--at least--I am too.

1 comment:

Pam Brewer said...

God Bless your ministry. You are where the rubber hits the road. "Churches are meant to be emergency rooms, not country clubs."