Will Willimon tells this story in this week's entry of Pulpit Resources:
A few years ago, in one of the great churches of our denomination, a young man was discoverd hiding in the church.
A maintenance worker discovered him one day. He had been lurking in the attic, spending his day in darkness, only venturing forth during the night to prowl about the church, feeding on leftovers, listening in on that daily activities of the congregation from his secret hideaway in the attic.
Willimon then asks,
Do you know anyone who is hiding in the church? Someone who is hiding amid the rest of the congregation, present, but not really, on the boundary, uninvolved, fearful of being found out, encountered? What would it take for this person to come out of the dark into the light?
As a pastor, this story haunts me.
I know there are people who are lurking on the edges, spiritually hidden away, fearful of being exposed. People who prowl through the leftovers of the well-fed. Or who overhear the joyfilled strains of the community in worship, disconnected, but still, somehow present. What does good news mean for them? Who do they need Jesus to be?
Scanning the borders, shining light in the dark corners, sweeping away the cobwebs and making sure the doors are open to all who need God's healing grace in their lives. This will always be our calling and our challenge.
I'll be pondering all this over the next couple of days as I prepare my sermon.