You're Invited

The first words I remember hearing when I came to my church, "We're okay if you're not okay." And I knew it would be okay.

I would come as late as I could and still get a seat, sit in the back corner, closest to the door for a quick getaway. I knew I was still licking my wounds, but I couldn't let anyone else see them, not yet.

"Who wounded you?" I would ask myself because I loved my former church and I loved my family and I loved my college and I loved my life and there was the wound, I found. I loved my life.

There was nothing to love about my life: I was a washed up homeschooled kid, battered by extremes, ideals, and strange theology, still trying to figure my way through life when death and divorce swooped through and wrecked everything I thought would protect me from what I'd been protected from. I was not okay. But I grabbed and clenched every scrap of life left to love. And I hated myself for it.

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Every generation of the Church comes along and finally corners the market. The Jesus Movement, the Bible Thumpers, the Emergent, the Young, Restless, Reformed—we're all taking back something of what felt stolen from us. We're learning to be okay in the face of what was not okay. We have never been a people much content with what we do have—we have pioneer blood running through our veins and there are always new lands to forge.

Someone asks me recently how it is that I am so okay with the wreck behind me and I remember the poet Adrienne Rich's words, "I came to explore the wreck; the words are purposes, the words are maps." I tell them I am not okay with the wreck behind me, but I am okay with not being okay. I thought once it was these words, the words I write every day, that let me be okay, but these words only help me navigate the invitation.

Peter was faced with the opportunity to listen to what others were saying about Jesus, and he said, "to whom else would we go? You have the words of eternal life!" He knew the invitation was not to fame or fortune, sense or stability—the invitation was to eternity and his only ride was upon the words of Jesus.

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We're okay if you're not okay, "but we don't want you to stay that way," is the rest of the invitation at my church.

This morning I read Revelation 19:9, "And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

The truth is none of us will corner any market in the Kingdom of God. His kingdom is not a store or an auction, selling to the highest bidder or best-behaved sinner. On the threshold of His kingdom is a feast and a marriage; our King is a Lamb and all His children are invited.

So I don't know what your wreckage is, and I don't know what your story is, and I don't know how the Church has hurt or harmed you, or grown or strengthened you, but I know this: it's a blessing to be invited to the table and He's okay if you're not okay: He has the truest words of all.