My little family of six, we sit in the back row.
No pews here, just chairs linked together, sitting on a concrete floor.
This is where the shy folks tend to sit. The visitors, or the ones who aren't quite sure they belong. The ones who want to escape out the door as soon as the last song is sung.
But my people are fidgety and they whisper and they often have deep thoughts to share (about Minecraft or Pokemon) just as soon as you raise your hand in worship.
They can be distracting, so we sit in the back row.
Our church doesn't look much like a church. It's a building with fake windows and a log cabin with bathrooms. There is no steeple. No bell. It's not even white.
But here my people meet.
This week we had visitors. They sat in the front row. Some of them were up on the stage leading us in song. We sang words like "I need you Lord" and "I want to be like a tree planted by the living water". I had tears in my eyes.
My son asked me if I was crying and I nodded slightly. He was very concerned and he wondered why. I shrugged it off. I assured him I wasn't sad.
Several of our visitors shared with us their story. The young lady leading our worship, she said she was so broken, even doctors didn't think she could be fixed. Another young lady, a local girl, the daughter of one of our church family, she told us how she decided to stop trying to please everybody and she descended to the pits of hell using alcohol and drugs. The man who taught us from the Scriptures out of Mark 4, he was from Jersey. We knew it before he even told us. Yeah, he had that accent. He told us about all the crazy stuff doctors and experts and other people trying to help had him do to try to cure him of his addiction to dope and not one of them worked.
The turning point in each of these people's lives was Jesus.
Yeah, these are my people.
In that room were addicts, prostitutes, murderers, thieves. Sinners and saints, every single one of us. There's not one of us that hasn't done something that we're ashamed of, something so bad we don't want anyone to know.
But we sing of our redemption- how the terrible things we've done have been forgiven.
And that's why the tears are in my eyes.
Because I sometimes, often, forget the depth of the pit I was pulled out of. I become a stone-thrower instead of grace-giver. But that morning I remember.
These visitors up front, they remember. They know how terrible they were, how messed up their lives were. And now they sing of the mercies of the Lord, who wiped the slate clean and made them a new creation.
These are my people.
We call ourselves Christians. Not because we are perfect, but because we are so very messed up. But we have been made a completely new person in Christ. So we bear His name.
What a bad deal for Him, I think sometimes, to have us representing someone so perfectly lovely. Because even as Christians, we mess up big time. We don't always reflect His loving heart and His grace-filled life.
We are liars, thieves, murderers, addicts, prostitutes, immoral, but He calls us His own.
We are HIS people.