I like prayer.
I like Bible studies.
I like prayer and Bible studies in coffee shops.
But yesterday – on Ash Wednesday in the year of our LORD 2014 – in rural-ish Illinois, I happened to park myself in a Starbucks with my computer and a skinny mocha, sitting in the one seat not taken by a large group of Christians who seemed to be gathering for prayer and Bible study.
They were loud. Like Sports-Bar-on-a-Monday-night-before-the-Playoffs loud. It was about 11 am and they were talking (loudly) and laughing and then praying (loudly) and then they left. And all I could think about was how much I did not ever want to be a part of that group.
God, have mercy on me and my own friends for the times that we were That Group. I’ve been part of groups called Theology on Tap (until my RC brothers threatened to sue me), Faith on Tap, and God Talk on Tap. And now I wonder how often we made onlookers never want to be a part of our gathering.
And so, please forgive me and my friends. My hope in getting together with believers and doubters and born-again atheists is that we would be authentically welcoming of all. But I wonder how often I have repelled people from a God who entered our world in human skin and loved/welcomed/blessed everyone.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.