When I came to First Christian Church, in Lynchburg, Virginia, I, myself, was a hurting, wounded soul. My wife, Debbie, and I sat on the very back row in worship, so that we wouldn’t draw attention to ourselves. Then came the passing of the peace. Suddenly, we were surrounded by complete strangers, welcoming us into their fellowship. On person smiled and said, “Lot’s of people call us the ‘gay’ church. Not everyone is gay, though.” And they aren’t.
Certainly, there many people in our congregation who are a part of the LGBTQ community, but other “misfits” are there, too. There are people with intellectual disabilities, people who are divorced, people who live together and people, like me, who have physical disabilities. A large cross section of imperfect humanity is represented at FCC. And God is there…opening himself to us and affirming us as his children. In response to his grace, we at FCC work to open ourselves to one another in mutual affirmation.
As a result of the welcome I experienced at FCC, I have become more welcoming to whoever crosses my path. Those in the LGBTQ community, who used to be nameless, faceless strangers to be feared, have become brothers and sisters in Christ with names, faces and poignant human stories. I have come to understand that, when God pronounced us “very good”, he meant all of us. As we say at FCC, “God loves you…no exceptions.”
In ancient Israel, because of my disability, I would have been excluded from worship with the community of faith. Tomorrow, at FCC, I will again experience the joy of offering the words of institution at the Lord’s table. If ever you are in Lynchburg, Virginia, Come join us at First Christian Church. There will be a place at the table, just for you.