October 27, 2008

A Glance Inward can be Disgusting

You've got to be joking. I was going to be late again.

So frustrating.

Not forgetting to make sure my clothes matched, my teeth were brushed and my hair wasn't looking like Amy Winehouse when she first wakes up, I floored it through the kitchen, down the steps, out the door and onto the freeway.
On a Sunday morning.
Of course.

Let's just paraphrase the next few minutes by saying the person driving my car wasn't happy, feeling worshipful, or honoring to God.
In fact I was quite angry.
I made lots of sarcastic and cutting comments under my breath to no one in particular as I looked for a creative way to make a fifteen minute drive into a seven minute drive.
Instead, I was able to make it just under twenty minutes.

It was that premature left turn to "shortcut" what I thought was construction.
Pulling into my carefully chosen parking stall, yanking t
he e-brake and jumping out, not forgetting my bible and my smile, I strode quickly to the front door.

"Good morning!"
It looked like he was sincere. I bet he had the same crappy morning I did.
"Good morning, how are you?"
"I'm great! Welcome, need a bulletin?"
I thought about it. Was I standing in front of him, expectantly staring at the stack of papers he held at waist level?
"Sure, I'd love a bulletin! Thanks!"

Walking inside to where the worship music was already playing, I chose a seat that was two spaces away from the people on either side.

Room to breathe.
What a morning.
God, I'm so sorry that I'm so frustrated.
I'm here, I made it, and here I am, opening myself to you.

I sang, and closed my eyes.

I listened and prayed along with the speaker.
He spoke, and I mentally noted many of the points that he made.
I took the sermon to heart.
And I opened my heart to the scriptures that were read.

Then the communion worship song began.

As I closed my eyes and turned my focus inwardly, I was interrupted by the slam of a chair as someone right behind me stood up suddenly.
Turning my head slightly, I caught a glimpse of someone.
What. The. Heck.

She looked to be in her late forties, maybe early fifties.
Her hair was matted, oily, and she was wearing baggy sweatpants and a massive t-shirt that bore the proud crest of Corona.

She stumbled into another chair, banging her knee into it. It became quickly apparent that she was either drunk or her equilibrium was suffering from nonexistence.
She was drunk.
Completely distracted by this woman, I watched as she staggered down the middle of the aisle.
Then to my surprise she turned to her right and complimented a young woman on her beautiful child.

I involuntarily shook my head.

What was happening? Who let this woman in?
I mean, this is church, we're here to minister to people like that, but why was she allowed to just do whatever in the middle of the service.
My judgmental and abhorrently Pharisee-like mind attacked this woman in the moment, before I even realized what was going on.

She made her way to the communion table and reached for the bread.
Her filthy, grimy hands ripped off a piece and she crossed herself in front of three hundred people in a Protestant church.

Then she started munching on a portion that would have made two sandwiches.
I stared shamelessly.

Appearing seemingly out of nowhere, someone two rows back from the front stepped into the aisle, walked to the woman's side, and picked up the remainder of the loaf, grabbing the two other loaves that were on the table.

I watched as she gave the homeless woman a huge hug.
Then she stepped back, handed her all the bread that had been on the table, and put an arm around her shoulder, guiding her to the back of the church.

God, how selfish am I?
I'm so, so sorry that I do not respond in a manner that reflects the heart of Your Son.
My mind reeled with the immensity of what just occurred in front of me, shattering my comfort zone and ripping apart who I say I am to reveal who I actually am.

God, take my heart away from me.
I want to be someone who moves on the wings of your Holy Spirit, no longer held captive in the talons of my own vicious self-centered heart.

Make me someone who will never, ever throw down such disgusting condescension on those who deserve your love and grace just as much as I do.
May I never again narrow haughty eyes in glances that condemn those you gave your life for.

When we had finished the communion song and were sitting back down again, I cleared my eyes enough so that they weren't so blurry and looked behind me to the back of the auditorium.

There sat the homeless woman on a chair, eating her bread happily and talking with the woman.
.. ... ..

"Take me into the Holy of Holies, take me in by the blood of the Lamb.
Take me into the Holy of Holies, take the coal, touch my lips, here I am."

© 2008, J.P.E.

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