This morning I sat down at Starbucks at my table next to the fireplace with Phillip. He’s like Norm of Cheers, friendly and fun. Except that he’s tall and he’s from England. He’s here every morning at 5:00. He knows everyone and chats with all.
Today he wanted to talk about God and church and how he didn’t think God could love him. And I wanted to listen.
Underneath the jovial facade, what I heard was fear. A fear that all of us have if we’re honest. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not having a place in community where he would be loved and accepted.
A couple of years ago, the night before Easter, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook:
“Oh joyful day! If ya need a church buddy tomorrow I’ll be at the 10:30 and 11:40!”
Even with all our digital connectedness, one of our greatest fears is being alone. Left out. Not “good enough” to be included. We all long for someone to be glad we showed up. Someone who’s saving us a place. Someone who will miss us if we’re not there.
And sometimes that person is me. It was me one night when I got a text from another friend saying, “I’m SO excited to see you again! I’m saving you a place!”
A place. For me. In a church space where I felt out of place an conspicuously alone.
One of the best gifts we can give each other is a place in community. That’s Easter. Jesus inviting everyone to enjoy a place at His table.
A place where no one needs to be afraid. A place where we can come as we are and be valued and loved and forgiven and redeemed?
I invited Phillip to come to our church, telling him our refrain is
“There is nothing you can do to make God love you more than He does right now. And there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less.”
We’re all broken messes in need of grace. And He gives it. He has a place for you.
Phillip says he’ll come. Someday. But he’ll probably slip in the back. And maybe slip out early. That’s ok. As long as he knows there’s a place for him. Just as he is.
And I’ll save a seat. Just in case.
Who do you know who needs to know they’re invited just as they are, and that you’ll save them a place?