I enjoy going to church. My church especially. It is a "praising" church with the motto of come as you are. Pretty cool. Anything from blue jeans to dresses and hats are welcomed and praise is the sermon.
Two Sundays ago, I was on my way to my church when I felt that left rear blow. Instead of being discouraged, I found it pretty fortunate that I was able to limp into the parking lot of my Aunt Pat's church. Well, I thought, I've always wanted to visit this church...what better time?! So I called a friend of mine to let him know that I'd be calling him after services and I'd need him to fix my flat tire. I had the money, he had a spare so we were in business!
After the call, I put my phone on vibrate, put my Bible in my MK bag and got out of the car. But suddenly, there stood a well dressed man in his 40's or 50's standing at my back bumper. "What are you doing here?" he asked. Even though I was startled I told him about the flat.
"You got somebody to come get you?" he asked.
"Well, yes, sir. I've always wanted to visit this church so I thought I'd attend and then call my friend to change the tire." He didn't seem too happy with my answer.
I was trying to figure out why I seemed to be intruding on this church and parking lot. I was well-dressed for church. I was modestly dressed, toned the makeup and was even wearing flats so I wouldn't be nearly 5'10" I am in heels. I was carrying a well-known purse so I didn't get this guy's "drift" I suppose.
I was fortunate enough to have been able to park perfectly in the first available one in the lot and wasn't blocking anyone but when I took a step forward towards the church...he got in front of me! He looked as if he was blocking my way into the church! What was happening?
I really felt strange. I never thought someone would try to prevent me from going in a church but it certainly seemed to be happening!
Then I did something I hate to do. But in this situation, it was worth a shot so I said, "My Aunt Pat Thompson goes to this church so I thought I would visit." The change that came over that man was predictable yet disappointing. He broke out in a smile, extended his hand and shook mine. I had actually said the "secret word" so suddenly I was welcomed.
This went against everything I had ever been taught. Everyone one is welcome in a church, right? My car might not be straight from the showroom floor but it was decent and I had someone coiming to fix the flat. What was his problem?
I think what stunned me the most is the feeling of having to meet some unspoken criteria before I'd be let in the building. Well, with this man's "approval" I started towards the sanctuary. Unbeknownst to me, a very nice red-haired woman had been watching this entire exchange and when I got close enough to her, she held out her hand, introduced herself and she accompanied me inside and sat beside me.
The church had quite a few of my long-lost relatives including the pastor. He recognized me, called me by name and welcomed me and I proceeded to have a wonderful service. There is very little sermon but lots of singing and praying. Yes, I did she my aunt who also ended up sitting with me. In and out in an hour. Beautiful service. Unfortunately, I was still thinking I'd probably not been allowed in if I hadn't "dropped" Pat's name.
After service, a friend had been by, fixed my flat and I rode home as if nothing unusual had happened. But it had occurred. For the first time I felt unwelcomed in a House of God. I've always heard of people going into the neighborhood to get people to come to church...not to "screen" anyone trying to attend. But of course, this would happen to me!! God Bless!!