by Joanne Beckley
Thinking back on Sunday, worshiping at Tshiredzheni (South Africa), I couldn't help but reflect on the trend I see in our increasingly desired larger congregations in America, with their well-dressed worshippers in their beautiful buildings -- and making comparisons . . . Here I was sitting in a building, being built little by little as money becomes available, (three years so far). The roof is finally on, but no windowpanes yet and the dirt floor is awaiting cement. Backless benches had been wiped off with sweaty palms and were standing on the uneven ground, while the dust was floating in the air as everyone arrived and found seating.
But what caused my thoughts to turn toward my original comment was the arrival of a barefoot woman who sat down beside me. Her clothing smelled of her cooking fire and it wasn't long before I began to notice fleas were trying to find a home on me. When the singing began, she was given a songbook which she held upside down while she sang.
So, here's my question -- how many of us could offer a venue that would encourage this poor woman to attend, be willing to sit beside her, or help her "read" from her songbook? I have long been fearful of our American snobbery toward the poor, albeit, unintentional and unaware -- or is it? Yes, we like the comforts that a nice building brings, the ease of being able to worship and teach, the evermore colorful bulletin boards, and even the security that "belonging" to a large well-heeled group provides.
Even those we choose to reach with the gospel must be able to offer us a certain level of ability to "belong." But I fear we are missing the whole point as Jesus said, "They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick" (Matthew 9:12). I'm asking myself, am I possibly unaware of wrongfully thinking I am "whole"? For you see, I am still having a problem because those fleas found a home.