Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
- Colossians 3: 12-14

Sue just knew this was a bad idea. She was prepared to run out of there. These were the folks that had cheated her dad out of money, that had told her mom she was no longer welcome after she had the nerve to stand up to them that day. These are the folks who said they loved her as a child but were always telling her to be quiet. And there was Janice who had told her she would amount to nothing but be a drunkard like her father. Why was she going back there? Why?

Sue walked up to the front door with apprehension. She was doing this because she had to. She needed it. But she knew it would go wrong. It was a beautiful day, not like the tornado the previous week that had ripped apart the town. She walked in the door and could hear the music already playing. She walked past the school cafeteria and into the gym. Folks greeted her at the door and gave her a program. She sat down in time for one of the children to welcome everyone. As she sat there, Sue felt a tap on her shoulder.It was Janice! Oh no, here it comes!

“You are the last person I expected here. I’m glad though and I guess…glad you are here.” Janice said. There was an awkward silence. Sue sat wondering what had prompted that when Dr. Grant stepped to the podium. “The tornado wiped us out. It devastated the town. Thank God no one was killed.

Our job now is to put the town back together. Let’s focus on the needs of the town. Let’s live into what we are called to do.” Sue always liked Dr. Grant. After the address there was more music then an offering to help with rebuilding and such.

Sue wandered into the crowd afterward. She felt oddly at ease even though they were standing in her old high school. Then she saw Janice again. This time she couldn’t believe her eyes—Janice was helping two young kids with their coats and she was laughing. She usually scolded kids for being too loud! Frank walked up behind Sue and said hello. “Welcome back!” Sue thanked him. They sat down and Sue filled him in on what her life had now become. She ended saying without thinking, “It sure would be nice to be able to come back every week.” “You can and you would be welcome,” Frank Grant said, “We are not a church because of the building, but because of the people God calls here. Maybe he is calling you?” “But, I have never felt welcome before, always judged and set out and looked down upon, never good enough. Not by everyone but by a few and they have made it clear that I am not their kind. No Pastor Frank, I would find it hard to come back even though I would love to be able to.” Janice was sitting near them and she heard that comment. After Sue left Janice came over to Pastor Frank and said, “Why does she think that we wouldn’t welcome her? I know that it was crazy when her folks were here. Why does she still see that? Pastor, you need to do something.”

And Dr. Grant looked Janice in the eye and said, “No Janice. You have to do something about it. What are you going to do to show humility, kindness, and love? What are you going to do? Think about how you have been the church to Sue and others in the past, asking even if you have. What is Jesus asking of you and this whole congregation? ” Janice had no answer.

What are we going to do to reconcile and become one body in unity and love? What are you reading this going to do about it? Reach out to someone and listen from their point of view. And be humble, gentle, kind, and mostly loving to everyone.

- Pastor Tim

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