Earlier this year our regional NPR station, WFDD, invited me to participate in an on-going segment of theirs called Real People, Real Stories. They had read my blog and thought some of them would make good five-minute audio essays. I've done three so far, including this one on taking my son to school the day after the Boston Marathon bombings, and this one on Thor the foster dog.
I was pleased when they asked me to record my blog post from a while back about Larry - the guy who came by the church seeking not financial assistance, as I had erroneously assumed, but hope (click on the pic below to listen). I've been careful in these essays not to push "church" too much, but they've been open to letting a pastor speak as a pastor. And I've been grateful for that - especially when it gives me a chance to paint a different picture of the church than what is so frequently seen.
To so many people in our society, church is a place where you are judged, where you are less than, where you are accepted only with a long list of qualifiers attached, where you have to look or act a certain way. I know this is the case, because I find myself apologizing to people about the church all the time. As I've said before, even they know we're getting it wrong.
What Larry taught me then and now about the church is that, at some elemental level, people still desperately want to see the church as a place of hope, despite our attempts over the years to not be that for them. People still have faith in the church, sometimes more faith that those in the church have in it themselves. And I realize now the amazing thing that Larry did in his visit: he came to church and showed me the church at the same time.
There is hope for the church, and it's not just because some of us are working hard to right the ship. There is hope for the church because folks like Larry expect and very much want us to be who we should be.
The church gave Larry hope. And Larry gives me hope.
(listen to the essay by clicking the pic below)