Gimme Shelter

December 29th, 2006 • Category: Variety Week
by David Squire

Today’s scripture: Matthew 13:47-48 and Romans 12:9-13 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (David Squire):

I was talking to Loretta Adame recently. She’s one of the leaders of Jesus MCC’s Animal Ministry, and she was telling me about how difficult it is to find volunteers who will commit to working at the Indianapolis Animal Care and Control.

Let me be clear — she was not complaining about the Animal Ministry team members. Rather, she was reflecting on just how hard the work is. It’s gut wrenching to put time and effort (not to mention your heart) into a group of animals who very well may not be there the next week — and not because they’ve been adopted.

Later in the conversation, Loretta asked me how my work at the church was going. (I’m Jesus MCC’s church administrator.) She commented that I must meet a lot of interesting people. Somehow, in the course of our conversation, we compared our church to the Animal Care and Control — just as they, by law, have to take in any and every dog, Jesus MCC welcomes everyone who wants to walk in the doors. I think this is what Jesus was describing when he talked about the Kingdom of God being like a dragnet that catches “fish of every kind.” All are welcome.

That got me to thinking. The welcome we try to provide sometimes makes it hard to be part of our church. I can’t assume that most of the people I’ll meet will be just like me, like I could at some of the churches of my past. Sometimes I encounter people who are very different from me — and it’s hard to shift gears.

I’m “in the middle” in a lot of ways — a middle-class, middle-aged, middle-American white guy. The only thing even marginally “exotic” about me is that I’m gay. How do I respond to someone who’s poor, or rich? Black or Hispanic? Trans or lesbian or a cross dresser or straight?

Do I provide the best “care” to guests I meet for the first time? Sometimes that can be hard to do. I might learn about some of the messy details of their lives, and I’ll have to decide — do I care enough to invest myself in these people God has brought my way? Or do I play it safe, and just stick with the people I know, and assume (or pretend) that everyone else will find their own way? I wonder — how many of the strangers I encounter on a Sunday could say, along with Mick,

Oh, a storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away.

God, help us.

Thought for the day: How do you react when you encounter people at church who are very different from you? Perhaps you can provide the shelter they need. Or you might be surprised to find they can provide the shelter you need.

Today, let’s join together in prayer, asking, God, when I’m with a group of Your children, help me to not be “alone in a crowd” — or to let anyone else be alone, either. Help me to notice someone who has need of comfort, cheer, or connection.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. Use the item above as a starting point, or consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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