The Baptism Of Jesus January 8, 2017
I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 1.4)
Sometimes when I am administering communion in church, I have a few moments of inactivity, as people arrive at the center of the rail and take a couple of moments of prayer or reflection as they kneel at the altar rail. Since I always want to honor those few moments of quiet for our communicants, I tend to look over their head so as to not appear to be invading their moment with God in prayer or reflection. This morning as I did so, for some reason my eyes were drawn to the shoes that people were wearing as they came to communion.
What I was struck by was the vast diversity of shoes that people wear to church. Some looked comfortable, some not … there were a variety of colors spanning the spectrum from black to tan … I saw heels that seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle to the craft of walking … a few people had Sunday best shoes, while others too the casual route … I caught sight of suede, leather and cloth … I even saw a pair of flip flops – no socks – amazingly from what I could see, no toes had been lost to frostbite. As I watched the shoes parade by during three different times of pause at the late service, I found myself thinking of the diversity of people who wear these shoes. People who looked comfortable in their own skin, and some who seemed anxious … folks who struggled to walk, and others who almost glided over the carpet … members who were dressed “to the nines” and others in quite casual attire … faces I knew and a few I did not.
It sounds simplistic, I suppose, but the experience reminded me of the vast diversity of people that exist in the Christian Church on earth. While some faith traditions are bound to a particular cultural ideology that creates a common spirit and bond among members, Christianity almost requires people from every walk of life so as to create a diverse and vibrant community of faith. The claim that Jesus came to earth for all people can only be validated if in fact we have parts of all walks of human life in the church. No one community can embrace the totality of that diversity at a given moment in time. But we can celebrate the the places we are unique and the areas where we are gifted in different ways and the parts of life about which we are passionate. Maybe our shoes are a better starting point than we realize. Prayer and reflection might be a starting place for figuring out where we fit.