"Whether you are a devoted follower of Jesus, a skeptic giving this whole church thing a shot or somewhere in between - you are welcome here. We will never assume that you have your life together, and humbly ask you not make that assumption about us. We are a group of imperfect people, loved by a perfect God." These were the words I found as my family followed my son to his new church near the school he attends. The facility, the Cannery Ballroom and Mercy Lounge, was a bar by night and a place of Christian fellowship by day. I liked the contrast in the two and it made me smile because I believe that God shines brightest in the most unsuspecting places.
We were not dressed for church and came in blue jeans and tennis shoes. My daughter wasn't feeling well and I gave her some cold medicine to help her get through the day. Apparently, she cannot take such meds. As we stood, at the end of the bar, singing words of praise, I turned to tell my child that it was hot in this place. She shook her head to tell me it was just me and my waves of menopause, because it was certainly not hot. A few minutes later, still standing, she whispers to me that it is hot in here. I returned a similar gaze offered by her earlier. It was only a moment later that she turned ghostly white and shot out of the congregation, ill from the meds pulsing through her system.
She was sick now and had the shakes. I went to the lobby where they offered complimentary coffee, tea and water to their guests. I retrieved a cup of water and found a box of peanut butter crackers and health bars. I knew the crackers would help calm her system and spent the next thirty minutes walking about the lobby with my water and crackers trying to help my child feel better. We couldn't leave because my keys were on the other side of the building. We sat in a large window sill, the cold from the glass comforting her, sipping water and eating crackers while we watched the rest of the service.
It was just before Communion began that my family met us in the lobby with my purse and keys. My mother pointed out the box of crackers on the table with the large sign I apparently missed. It read, "If you don't know where your next meal is coming from, please help yourself." My heart sank as I stood there with my contraband crackers in hand. I had taken food from the homeless and was openly dining on it with my shaky child. How did I miss this important instruction! I left $20 and headed for the door. It was my son who pointed out that my escape to a shiny red Cadillac didn't help my situation any.
I had to laugh and take comfort in the very words that met me at the door.... "We are a group of imperfect people." Had Jesus, himself, been standing in the lobby that day, I know He would have handed my child a cracker or two. Mercy was not just the lounge next door, it was the kindness of a group of people who thought enough to leave food out for those who may need it, no matter what the situation. Thank you Ethos Church.