where Jesus would be comfortable

The city was very quiet yesterday morning, almost no traffic and few people on the street. Until I got to the church. There were guys waiting outside, and then most of the church was filled with homeless people, but still quiet. The bible study was lively. People's respect for each other and willingness to listen impressed me. And the leader was clearly not a graduate of the school of hard knocks, but the others seemed to respect him anyway, maybe because he also respected them. That gives me hope.

But the church service afterwards impressed me more. It was an assembly almost completely of people from the street. A congregation I could really see Jesus comfortable in.

The small choir seemed to be mostly made up of people from the congregation. One of the best male singers even told of being beaten and abandoned by his parents in a motel room when he was eight months old. He had a wonderful, booming voice. During communion he sang a well-known, and quite intricate, version of the Lord's prayer; it gave me shivers as he reached the climax at the end (click here to hear an instrumental version of it that I found online).

About half of the people gathered in the church seemed to participate. Others were just waiting for breakfast, I guess. But there were several testimonies and a large number of people came up for communion. Their eagerness to come was quite noticeable. When the invitation came, people just streamed out of the pews and flooded up around the communion rail.

I'll remember that image. I think sacraments like communion (and anointing, which they also offered after the service) may be very valuable ways to communicate God's love in a simple, physical way to the people who come to our retreats. People who may not be so interested in complicated talk or theology. Even if they are not familiar with such practices, the symbolism is easily grasped, and full of meaning.