More Alike Than Not
February 22, 2022
If a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please’, while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there’, or, ‘Sit at my feet’, have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
~James 2:1-4 (NRSV)
If you want to know who really needs worship, just look at who shows up to church on a rainy, miserable, November Sunday. Alternately, see who shows up on a beautiful, sunny, July Sunday that falls on the last day of the county fair that has a petting zoo and plenty of parking.
Throughout my ministry, I’ve discovered that the people who need worship the most are substantially drawn from two groups: parents of young children, and elders who are living by themselves. There are, of course, differences between these groups—of age, of circumstance, of sleep deprivation. But they also have one critical thing in common. Each and every person has been looking forward to that hour when they will be among the company of others making common cause. That’s a beautiful thing about worship, it levels the distinctions between people.
Some people come to church in an impeccable outfit perfectly accessorized to match the liturgical season. Others come with a diaper bag overflowing from holding a non-trivial percentage of all their worldly possessions. But though their outer appearance is quite different, they all want the same thing. When they walk into church, they just want to be one person among the people of God.