My friend Alan forgot to tell me that the church I was speaking in this morning holds a very very smart traditional service. As I was part of CLAN gathering which seems to be laid back and relaxed as can be and without a tie or clerical color in sight I had made the assumption that my speaking engagement was similar. But, alas, no.
I arrived at the church building early straight from the camp site, which had basic facilities, and quickly caught on that it was a quite a posh set up when the guy outside whose job it was to tidy up litter was wearing a serious kind of funeral armarni suit.
So, the first thing I did was frantically look for a place that sold shoes on a Sunday morning, the options being a pair of golf spikes (plenty of options in St Andrews) or a pair of brown loafers two sizes too small. I chose to stick with my sandals hoping no one would notice.
I arrived and apologised for my casual attire, light project hoody, jeans and tie-dye T-shirt. Oh, and my sandals. I hoped I could lay low in a pew until my preaching turn, but I was directed up to the Alter on full view to sit in a special elevated seat for the entire service on full view before I was required to ascend an even higher giddy pulpit made of marble and bathed in spotlights!
I felt so out of place. Until I started to preach that is… As soon as I started it all made sense and kind of tumbled out. ‘Who can come to know Jesus?’ was my question as I spoke about the Ethiopian Eunuch from Acts 8 and also shared some stories about some guys I had met on the streets. The point being that if someone who looked so different and obviously had a job of keeping the beds for a harem could become a follower of Christ than anyone can.
My attire all of a sudden made sense. I looked so out of place, painfully like I didn’t belong to such a. flowerery place. Yet the challenge I brought was for the Church to accept and love those who look different to them and with those who they may regard as beyond the pale of church.
As I descended the smart pulpit with my sandals flip flopping on the marble stairs echoing around the spacious building I thanked God that my good friend Alan forgot to remind me to bring my suit. Thanks Al. Good preaching illustration you inadvertently gave.