There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I wouldn’t tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you.
John 14:2 (CEV)
Ooh, he could irritate me! He’d walk into the Chapel. I’d recoil from his smells…the Black body that hadn’t been washed in weeks, the lingering alcohol from last night’s binge. Before saying hello, he’d ask for a handout. Uh-uh…no room in this inn for you.
But Angie knew how to cajole him. She’d set him straight: You say “Hello” to me before asking for some money. And then she’d ask how he was doing. He’d shuffle around before launching into a tirade about people doing him wrong. Once, in a congregational conversation about racism, he stood up and, with deep clarity in his voice and eyes, said, “You people have NO IDEA what it’s like to live on the streets.” He was right. I had NO IDEA. The inn door creaked open a little. I peered out to look ever so warily.
During the pandemic, the congregation has not been meeting in person. So we meet once a month, sometimes bi-weekly depending on the need – a doctor’s appointment, getting money out of his disability account, taking him cigars during the short-lived rehab-center stint. Some days my inn door is still closed shut. No, not today. You’re irritating me. You smell. You’re inconveniencing me.
But when I’ve spent some time in prayer and when I look him deep in the eyes and when we have a moment of laughter between the two of us…I invite him into the inn and offer him a room. We talk about his mother, his sisters. We laugh about how I’m procrastinating with a project. He asks about people at the church, my mother. He never fails to say about my husband, “Tell Joel I love him.” We hug one another and part.
I go on down the hall to my room. I’m coming to learn: We’re all in this together.
Thank you, God, for this extravagant house.
Rev. Janet Ross