This past Sunday before worship I noticed graffiti on an exterior door of the church. The graffiti read: “Forgive me for my sins. I’m just livin.” A message from a neighbor. The church I serve is a downtown church, which means that there is no boundary between ‘church life’ and ‘real life’.
On any given day of the week, this church is home to neighbors who are homeless, recovery groups, a preschool, parenting classes for fragile families, a relief nursery with an amazing record of preventing child abuse, a free medical clinic, a place to rest and reflect, an office staff that seeks to provide a listening ear and help with emergencies, meeting space for community groups, and a wide variety of church programs.
There is no boundary between ‘church life’ and ‘real life’. By intentionally offering hospitality to our neighbors, this particular congregation has chosen to be in a dynamic relationship with our neighborhood. There is the clear sense that our building is not a gated community, designed to keep the right people in and the wrong people out. Rather our building strives to be a place where dialogue and relationships are fostered.
Does life get messy at times? Do we sometimes struggle to get along and make room for one another? Yes. Such is the price of being human. The price of being faithful.
This past Sunday, someone with a blue marker left a message on the glass of the church door: “Forgive me for my sins. I’m just livin.” I don’t know who wrote this but I’d enjoy having a conversation, to hear their story, their struggles, pain and hope. I’d speak of a God who loves and forgives. I’d talk about our God who seeks to restore and bless.
Here at the corner of First Street and Cowls Street, there is no boundary between ‘church life’ and ‘real life.’ That’s a good thing. Thanks be to God.