The man walks into the assembly minutes before church service is about to begin, quickly sitting down in an empty pew at the back of the auditorium. He fumbles with his coat and hat, accidentally knocking a hymnal to the floor. Heads turn to look. Whispers. ..
“Do you know him?”
“No, do you?”
More heads turn– some smile, others just catch a glimpse of the stranger and quickly look ahead again.
“Who’s that man, mommy”
“Ssh, just turn around and be quiet.”
The child sneaks another peek over her mother’s shoulder, smiling at the man, who returns the smile.
After services, the man, again, fumbles with his coat and hat. The child walks up to help him. They smile at each other, not speaking. Some of the church members walk past the man and say nothing. A few nod their heads to him in passing, while talking with regular members. Others approach him with greetings, “Good to have you here. Where are you from?” They shake his hand–not noticing.
The man doesn’t say much in response. “From around here, not far from the church building. Just thought- I would come today.”
“We’re glad you did. Be sure to come back.”
“Yes, please do come back.”
The voices follow him as he leaves. The child, also, follows him. He stops to look down at the little girl and gently pats her head. She is watching his hands.
“Do they hurt?”
Scars. Wounds. From when? From where?
“Sometimes they do, little girl. They did today.”
“Mommy kisses my ouches when they hurt.”
“Well, I don’t have a mommy anymore.”
The little girl grasps both his hands and kisses them before running away toward her mother’s call, stealing a look back, smiling.
Holding the smile in his eyes, the man walks away, hands in his pockets, hidden from those he passes–yet, less painful with a little girl’s kisses, a soothing ointment, covering the scars.
We, the church everywhere, walk in and out of a building each Sunday, noticing new faces, recognizing familiar ones. Greetings and welcomes, hugs and pats on the back. Shaking hands with visitors. Worshipping and singing, studying the Word, sharing the Lord in communion, praying and giving thanks.
Smiling, laughing, telling stories of the past week before leaving. But do we notice the scars? Do we see the wounds? Have we looked into “the window of the soul”—the eyes? Do we ask?
The little girl did. Maybe the others saw the hands of the man as well; some did shake his hand. But the adults in the story said nothing, maintaining privacy and personal space, and possibly not noticing at all. The child, on the other hand, just saw and asked. She even followed the man out of the building to ask,
“Do they hurt?”
The unabashed innocence of a child seeing the “ouch” and reaching out to “kiss” the wound to make it “feel better” : What can we learn from a child? “. . .for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
What do we ask before we let visitors–and each other–leave the building?
(Sharon G. Tate blog 05/22/16) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word