One of the great gifts I’ve received during sabbatical is the church that I found in Galveston. It is a beautiful expression of the kingdom of God breaking into American society. The highlight of the three weeks that I attended was Easter morning.
I was served the Lord’s supper by a recovering addict…whose face was soaked with tears as he choked out the words, “the body of Christ, broken for you.” Earlier in the service, he had shared about how he has recently come to Christ, how he is recovering and learning to surrender to God, and how he definitely isn’t “there” yet, but he’s trying.
What impacted me was the reality that churches are usually pretty picky about who can do certain things, not least of which would be serving the Eucharist! But in that moment, I realized that nothing could communicate the possibility of resurrection any more profoundly to me than being served by this broken one. The paradox is that this one who was just beginning to understand the meaning of it all, actually seemed to understanding it better, and perhaps to experience it more deeply, than those who “had it all together.”
It reminded me of something: I once recruited a drummer from a bar because we didn’t have one, and the drummer came to know Jesus after weeks of playing for us. He didn’t even embrace Christ when we started, but the words of the songs he was playing, and the love and acceptance (of people who historically aren’t good at loving and accepting the sinner) led him into faith in Jesus.
I then remembered countless times we’ve recruited people in youth and kids ministry to study and teach lessons when those people weren’t “ready” in the eyes of some of the “seasoned” ones in the family.
Once, when I was a Family Pastor, I had given a new Christian couple a preschool Bible story book to read to their little girl each night. I was full of joy – and conviction – when they stopped me in the hallway at Church weeks later to tell me how God had been touching their lives through these preschool Bible stories that they were reading to their child; ones that they had never heard before.
Do you realize how much the people Jesus released the mission to didn’t have it all together yet? I wonder what kind of shake up would occur if Jesus started call the shots on how we do ministry, who we involve, and how we treat the broken. There wasn’t an ounce of “us vs. them” mentality in Jesus; for Him it was all just us…the whole broken lot of us.
It’s messy following Jesus. It’s an absolutely beautiful mess. My prayer is that I won’t forget that drummers who aren’t even Christians can be resurrected by being invited into the mission; parents who don’t have their faith together yet can be resurrected by being invited into the mission; recovering addicts who are still very broken can be resurrected by being invited into the mission.
Here’s the real irony: the guy who most churches wouldn’t think of choosing to serve the Lord’s Supper, became a pathway for the kingdom of the heavens to come to bear on the life of a pastor who’s been following Jesus for 30+ years.
He is risen! He is risen, indeed!