Today a young woman walked into the church and asked to use the telephone. Not a problem, I said. And while she sat in the office dialing numbers and getting no response, I sat at my desk trying to pick out hymns for Sunday.
Are you stranded? I asked. She had just been released from the county jail, she said, was 80 miles from home, and no one was coming to get her. She finally got a hold of a friend or a neighbor... someone she thought might help and was chewed out over the phone. She hung up in frustration.
But she got home. And she will continue to be in my prayers. And I pray that God will open up pathways before her and that a community near her will open their arms wide and help her back on her feet. But for now... she got home. And that was way more important than the bulletin.
For a few weeks now, I have felt in a bit of a church rut. Maybe a spiritual rut is more like it. I'm doing the church thing, I'm going through the motions, but isn't there more that God calls us to than preaching and teaching and organizing my desk? Let me take that back... the rut has been deeper and run longer than a few weeks, but only in the last few weeks have I noticed. My ordination really brought some things into perspective.
Growing up, I loved to play "office." I liked staplers and to make documents. I'm good on the computer. I would make a fantabulous secretary. But I'm not called to be an administrative assistant. And I'm not called to be an administrator. I'm called to share God's love with people. I'm called to be out in the world, as the hands and feet of Christ. And doing church often gets in the way of that. I sometimes let the church get in the way of my doing that.
When she walked into the church today, my heartstrings tugged a little. It was like God was saying... I hear you - I know you want to serve me - It doesn't matter that you have been a little off course lately - Feed my sheep. Open your eyes and let go of all that stuff you think you are supposed to be doing. Go.... do... love.
This beautiful young woman had a thousand different needs, and I couldn't begin to meet all of them. But I could get her home. I could let her know that I didn't care if she had spent a few nights in jail or a thousand years or if she was Mother Theresa - but she was loved by God and by me and she deserved to have someone help her. I could do that. God could do that through me.
The bulletins? They can wait for another day.