the Church of strangers and aliens. {like me}

there's a couple at my church in their late seventies, and they're the sort of people who don't have a filter--they just say whatever pops into their heads.

she told me once, when james was an infant, "it's a good thing you had that baby. you were getting really FAT!"

i never feel offended. i just shake my head and smile and wonder, exactly how old do you have to be to get away with that sort of thing?

we attended a particularly colorful dinner party with them just before the 2008 elections, and i will never forget the wide-eyed looks and chair-squirming that accompanied the salad course and their spirited political pronouncements (which we found to be both deeply amusing and spot-on).

last night at our lenten church supper, someone addressed the group from an elder-care organization the church supports. the wife, whose vision is weakening, shared how much the organization had meant to her in recent months, since they gave up their home and moved into senior apartments:
"i can vouch for them. my volunteer comes with me to my appointments, and last time i told her to take me to the mall, too.  do you know, she had never in her life ever been to a MACY'S? or TALBOTS? so we went. we help each other."
she's so right. we do help each other, and often not from our sameness or in the ways we might expect, but how many of us ever get the chance?

we don't have many reasons to associate in meaningful ways with anyone we don't expressly choose to, except perhaps at work. we don't know our neighbors. we aren't made to do group work like in school growing up. we join affinity organizations (sports teams, homeschool co-ops, civic groups) but may never interact with those whose age, politics, class, or race are different than ours.   

the more we huddle up, the easier it is to pigeonhole, misunderstand, or even demonize those who don't look like me or share my views or experience.

the Church is one of the few places left where different sorts of people come together and have to figure out how to get along, but if you look around, we're not so varied an organization either. it is said that sunday mornings are the most racially segregated hour in america, and we splinter by age and family category too, into ministries and small groups geared specifically for people just like us.

talking about family stuff with young moms is fine, but potty training doesn't exactly get my heart pumping. what does is justice and community, ecology, theology, food, faith, art, and politics, and i know my gender, generation, and tax bracket hardly have a monopoly on any of those passions.

maybe i need to take an old lady to talbots sometime. not to buy a silk scarf, but to discover the common threads that weave our stories together.

the Body of Christ functions best when it functions together. all of us.

warts and all.
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