Read God Stories to remember that God is alive and active, restoring, renewing, and bringing hope in the most unlikely places. You'll find them rotated with "barren Mondays" posts. The husband and I are in a church transition. Need I say more? Church transitions can be tricky, loaded actually, and walking into this big, beautiful, diverse new church made me feel a little like I was cheating on my old church. I knew God was clearly moving us on, but my heart felt frozen. Truth be told, it hurt to breathe.
Don't get me wrong. I liked what I saw at this gathering of believers, I felt like I could be accepted there, that anyone, anywhere, could actually be accepted there, but I didn't yet feel welcomed. Well, OK, I had just walked in the door, so what can you expect?
But I was not one of their people.
They didn't know my name.
And in a church of this size, how long would this take, if I passed on the Beth Moore Bible study and the Zumba class? I was feeling fragile, like a leaf that could easily blow away, unnoticed, unsure, unneeded.
All of this happened on Palm Sunday.
A few greeter-people shook our hands at the door on the way in, but otherwise we were lost in the crowd. Until she sashayed down the aisle, waving her palm frond like a greeting, approaching us as if she were our long-lost aunt, an aunt with skin of a different color. We were sitting there, stunned; she was standing there, joyous, dressed snappily, ready to serenade us with her love. She hugged both of us on the spot, though we were still sitting down.
And then she did the totally unexpected. She told us someone over yonder had just taught her to kiss like the French. I kid you not. And then . . .
She leaned over and gave my husband the smoochie-smooch on his cheeks, back and forth, three times, acting as if he had just been christened.
She greeted my man with a holy kiss, I tell you, and I was next. I think she said "Blessings in the name of the Lord!" or something, I'm not sure, because I was thoroughly enjoying the look of shock on David's face. And then she turned and moved on down the aisle for her next greeting. After the shock wore off, I turned to my beloved and said, "She has just welcomed us when no one else did. Good for her!"
It so happens that this beautiful aunt-like woman also dances in the aisle when Jesus' name is being sung about, that she cries out "Hallelujah!" and other such exclamations of praise. This is not exactly a common occurrence in this new gathering, but she does it anyway. I am coming to love her for it, I'm determined that I will appreciate her sacrifice of praise, that I will soak up her heart bursting with gratitude like her Savior does. So this morning when she saddled up to me during the song, grabbing my hand, hugging my neck, I heard her say with deep sincerity, "We're chosen. He loves us," and other such beautiful utterances, and I returned the favor.
I planted a singular smooch on her cheek, in front of God and everyone.
She beamed. She sang, I sang, and then she moved on down the aisle, a cacophony of praise in her wake.
And I have just one more thing to say about that. I have observed the eye-rolls that sometimes follow her, the look of incredulity on the faces of some. And at one time I would have been one of the nay-sayers, I would have been in this crowd. But when sister-aunt begins to saunter down the aisle, you'll find me smiling now. I have a feeling that this type of unadulterated praise, this gesture that reminds me of King David unashamedly dancing in his underwear before God—no holds barred (2 Samuel 6:20-23), is what heaven will smack of, loud and long. I have a feeling that we will all be worshipping wholeheartedly, without a thought of holding back, even if we all do so uniquely.
I only hope that when I am in the presence of Jesus, sister-aunt and I get to hang out in the same neighborhood, that we are part of the same detail, if you will. Because frankly, I have something to learn from her. Perhaps she can teach me the art of perfecting the holy kiss—and perhaps, ever so much more.
Your Turn: How about you? What have you learned from someone who freely shares the love of Christ in unexpected ways?
(Note: Another "barren Mondays" will appear next week, where I discover the only woman in the Bible and what that might have to do with me: "Guilty by Barren Association." Stay tuned!)