A thought occurs to me. The churches that I feel comfortable are those that have become a repository for weirdness, that provide a sanctuary for the strange. Churches where men with drooping handlebar moustaches and women in 1950’s frocks from Shirley’s sit alongside the nutty, the ugly and the terminally obnoxious. People who in ordinary society are shunned, misunderstood, or told swiftly to get lost, in my sort of church find welcome and are respected.
And we all sit along side one another longing for a better world.
In India we used to go to two churches each Sunday. The first, at 9.00am sharp was the acceptable, orthodox church where good Indian Christians went. The people dressed nicely and sang hymns from 1970’s English hymnals. Never anything Indian. Beggars and lepers and children with missing arms and twisted faces lined the doorway and the path, and the good people walked past them every Sunday.Then at 10.30 we would get on a bus and arrive in time for the devotions at Sahara House, the drug rehabilitation centre we worked at. 80 men, maybe 20 women, a bunch of streetwise kids and thin babies, people with AIDS, with Hep A, with huge wounds from knife attacks, open sores, missing teeth and fingers, prositutes, gangsters, hold-up men, holy men, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, non-believers, unbelievers, us. A pirate crew of misfits, dropouts, geniuses, losers, sad men and beaten women, all sitting together on the floor, two guitars and a set of tabla and us all wanting a better life for ourselves and each other and asking God to be part of that.My kind of church.