Faith Stories: Kindness Oozing
As a salesperson, my son Luke encounters all types of people. He is a great storyteller and often regales me with tales of entertaining or touching exchanges he has had with customers. Luke is a very articulate young man fully engaged with modern culture, politics, sports and technology, and always has an opinion on any topic. He is seldom at a loss for words. Recently, however, Luke struggled to find the words to adequately describe a particular older gentleman who had come into the business. He paused (an unusual occurrence for Luke) and then said: “This man was so nice – like the people at St. John’s where kindness oozes out at every seam.” I was so struck by his words that I immediately wrote them down so that I wouldn’t forget or distort them.
My son is not a member of St. John’s and has attended services only a handful of times, primarily at Christmas. But Luke has perceived, like so many other visitors to our worship gatherings, that St. John’s is a place of sincere welcome and acceptance and kindness. There are no strangers in our sanctuary, no loners, no outsiders. The Holy Spirit is surely present in this place – a place where followers of Christ embrace their fellow man with openness and generosity and enthusiasm.
The Baton Rouge community is reeling with hurt and anger right now, mirroring the larger malaise of our country. Cultural divides are rearing their heads like fearsome monsters from the deep. Calls for building walls, deporting thousands of residents, excluding entire cultures blare out from all sides. Division, not inclusion, seems to be the clarion call.
In our corner of the community, on our little speck of the globe, St. John’s United Methodist Church – where diversity is celebrated, where differences are embraced, and where resources are generously shared – serves as a beacon of love and understanding and unity. Let us continue to follow Jesus’ directive to love our neighbors as ourselves and remain a bastion of hospitality and hope where a visitor will always sense ‘kindness oozing’ from every seam.