Sunday morning was a very powerful Sunday. Elsie came with her boyfriend and mother as we greeted them with hugs. You see, the Monday before her 7 month old baby, Christopher, had died due to SIDS. Elsie had been homeless, moved to Dignity Village, and finally was able to leave and get her own apartment. She had never done drugs, and loved her new baby. She had been a regular at Agape and we all loved Elsie, Christopher, her mom Cindy, and many friends she brought to church. This death had hurt all of us.
For so long it has been somehow understood that if we suffer loss we do not go to church. Over my 20+ years in ministry it seemed common that people need not come to church on Sunday's if there has been a death. Surprisingly Elsie showed up with her family. She held a couple other babies, cried when we showed Christopher's picture and announced the funeral, and let people hug her and weep with her. Her mother Cindy stood up during the time of testimony to share how much they loved this church. She also shared that their community Dignity Village, and the people at Satruday Market were collecting money to pay for the funeral. She shared how the families were coming together to help and how she saw God working. Everyone in the assembly was touched. I wondered how many people, over the past 20+ years, have missed the opportunity to let their church support them because they stayed home during their loss.
Even more, I looked over the group and saw how many of our people, a year ago, would have judged this family. How many of them by ignoring the homeless would have never known how their friends and community have supported them. How many of them would have cared less about the loss we all face--and that we use the word "we" to describe our feelings. I was moved by the heart of all at Agape. You might say I was blown away by their love and how many people have become people of agape.
Marc, our campus minister, preached and I got to sing with the praise team. Yet, I heard veery few (if any) comments about either. I heard comments about "what happened that morning," or "the worship," but they had little to do with what we normal consider as "the worship." I believe that they had more to do with the community and the feeling of support and love we all felt.
It's nice to be blown away by our churches--especially when they show the love that is missing in our world today. Especially when they show love to the people our communities neglect every day of the week.