Easy like Sunday Morning?

Church DoorsSometimes getting inside the church building is hard. I’ve talked to a few friends recently about what it takes to collect all they’ve got and bring it into Sunday’s gathering. Some people get to roll in on Sunday, hands free. They’re ready to smile and mean it. Some folks face obstacles just getting to the door.

Like last Sunday. My friend and I compared notes and laughed about how ridiculous it is getting preschoolers fed, dressed, pottied, and ready to walk into church on a sunny day, much less a tornado-like rainy day like we were having. She was by herself, bringing three littles to church. This superhero mom told me it took three trips in and out of the building with the umbrella, supplies and kids ages 6, 2 1/2 and 8 months. We’re talking American Ninja Warrior skills, friends. I had just the one little guy by myself to wrangle into the building during the stormy mess it was a disaster. For me, balancing the umbrella and getting the threenager to steer away from the fun puddles and run with me to the door still meant we were both ridiculously soaked when we reached the door.

Another friend told me how she has to take deep, calming breaths to walk towards the sanctuary. Just walking in that door takes her back to her husband’s funeral. She makes it, almost every Sunday. When I think about the way she has to set her face and open her heart I have a new picture of what strength looks like. For her, being in that space means being present with all the moments that happened there. Sometimes grief keeps an address and its location is right smack in the front of the sanctuary.

Getting inside the church building is no small thing. I don’t care if you are walking into a 200 year old building or store-front sanctuary, not many of us show up hands-free.

If you’re carrying the weight of all the judgements people hurl at your “lifestyle,” then sometimes you barely make it to the very back pew.

If it’s all you can do to curb your criticisms of the Church long enough to show up for one, then sometimes it helps to be hugged tight, squeezed until the sarcasm softens enough to let you hear the Good News.

If you’re reaching for the door wondering if there is anyone else like you, then a greeting of thin smiles and a “friendship register” just won’t cut it.

If you’re juggling two diaper bags, smushed cupcakes, and the the crushing realization that you may never be on time again, then sometimes you need a high-five and a Sean-Hayes-style celebratory dance when you finally reach your seat.

We know hospitality matters. We also know that once you make it inside, there are good, cup-filling, transformative moments with God that can happen. We may even put greeters by the door, congratulating those who arrived with a lovely bulletin and a handshake.

But there’s stuff happening just outside the door. Look around. Getting there is brave work.

Once you get inside, don’t forget to look and see who might be heading in, too. Walk outside with an umbrella and hold the door open for them.

Also from Erin Robinson Hall


Too much for the Methodists

Today’s Wednesday Prayer is brought to you by one of my favorites – favorite writer, favorite truth teller, favorite singer. She just happens to be my favorite sister, too. She led in worship on All Saints Day last week, and wrote this gorgeous prayer. I’m told that her instructions were, “Yes, you can be yourself. Put in enough Ashley that it’s you, but not so much that you scare the Methodists.”  Now, I know Methodists don’t scare easily, and neither does God. I’m thankful that Ashley put her whole self in the prayer. Methodists – and Baptists – would do well to realize what a gift they have in counting Ashley among their own. A General Thanksgiving for All Saints Day by Ashley Robinson Blessed Comforter, we thank you for the lives of the poets, the prophets, and the profane; the well-behaved and the rabble-rousers, the peacemakers, the music makers, the noisemakers, the caramel cake makers and the mess makers; the list keepers and the delightfully scattered, and even the unnamed, undocumented, and unmentionable people who have gone before us. We thank you for the great cloud of witnesses that shades us with comfort as we continue to walk each other home. We thank you for the saints still among us who awaken us to the possibility of your kindom here on earth. We thank you for the borrowed breath that sustains us from dust to dust. We find hope that you hear every damning why, every shattered Hallelujah, every tear-ragged thank you as a groaning to be filled with your life-giving spirit that welcomes us into community with the...

I Brave

Deep waters, flames, and fears have come before. They will probably come again. But the narrative I want my child to have, and the narrative I hope to voice continually for myself and for my family is this: Fear doesn’t win. We are strong. And just in case we’re not brave enough, we will be brave for each other.

Saving Your Life

I peeked out my upstairs, bedroom window on November 1, about 8:00 am, and looked out into our backyard. Amidst the sunlight peering through fall leaves and the dew glistening on the grass, I saw . . . A tiny storm trooper running full speed through the yard. My little four-year old neighbor. Our dog barking her head off alerted me to this visitor outside. I couldn’t quite get my early-morning brain to pull thoughts together and figure out why he was there, and where his mom was. We had celebrated Halloween with friends and their littles the night before, so I wondered: Did he sleep in his costume last night? (Makes total sense) Did we forget someone when we all went to bed last night? Then, I found my phone and saw this text:   After dying laughing, I searched my son’s room and found the mask under a pile of toys and clothes. Obviously. I ran outside and delivered the mask to the little storm trooper and his super-mom in the mini-van. That one is only topped by the text from earlier in the week that made me DIE laughing. I can’t. Cannot. The image of my 100 percent stylish, Type A, take-on-the-world friend hoisting herself onto a mannequin to strip him down made me sit right down and laugh. Which always makes my day brighter. There was also this honest lament made me howl: I mean. Tiny Sister Friend KNOWS the truth about her favorite clothes. She won’t get to wear them again. Probably not ever. Who among us has not felt bummed about a favorite...

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