There she was. A shy, tiny 16 year old girl. She wanted to talk to me, I was told. “She doesn’t normally come to church – she just happened to be here – and told her mom she wanted to talk to you.” Her voice was so soft I could barely hear her with kids racing around and adults chatting over coffee. She said, “I really like what you said in there. There is a gay-straight alliance at my school that I’m a part of. My mom didn’t want me to go to it – and she wouldn’t let me have any of my gay friends over….. but when she heard your sermon this morning she told me she’d been wrong. I just wanted to say thank you. I really like what you’re doing.”
We chatted for a few minutes and I encouraged her to keep loving and serving her gay friends. And as the conversation came to a close she tentatively reached out to hug me. Normally, I don’t feel like a giant – but in my high heels and with my motherly figure such as it is these days – I felt huge as I enveloped this wisp of a girl into an embrace. By now, her dark eyeliner and mascara were smudged all over her face, and she whispered one more, “thank you” and disappeared.
These are the moments that stand out as the precious ones. I don’t really care if people “like” my preaching. Why is it that people say “good sermon” anyway …..? Good for what? I don’t want to just be a good public speaker, a good communicator, someone who kept people’s attention, kept them interested – or heaven forbid entertained them …… I long for all of us, in the preaching of the Word, to be cut to the quick – to be taken over by the Living Word – to be changed, to be profoundly reminded of the grace in which we stand, to be renewed in the radical commitment to bridge the gap in every conversation, every relationship, every opportunity to be the very embodiment of the love of Christ in the flesh – to carry out and carry on the work of the incarnation. I long for us to be so secure in the love of the Father – that we willingly enter the insecurity of loving those who are different than we are.
And a tiny, wisp of a girl – who waits on the fringe, not sure if church is really for her ….. this tiny, wisp of a girl got it. How cool is that!!