Jesus, when you think about it was, if anything, approachable.
A Roman Centurion spoke with Jesus about healing a servant. A rich young ruler came to Jesus with a question about interpreting Scripture. A group of kids stepped toward Jesus and when they did the disciples got in the way, only to have Jesus insist the children could come to him.
While it is true Jesus took his time to get away and pray, he also was an out in front leader. He was accessible to the people around him and sometimes scandalously so.
I wonder today if the church is as available to everyone as Jesus was in his own time?
Yesterday, a member of our church came up to me and said, “I have to tell you I was wrong about something.” He proceeded to tell me that initially he was against something our church did. On Ash Wednesday, we offered the opportunity for anyone to come and receive ashes curbside. People drove up in their cars, received ashes, and went on with their day.
His difficulty with it was that such an offering did not allow for the context of Ash Wednesday to develop. At a worship service – which we also offered – there is a chance to experience the greater story. A worship service can consider the season of Lent and its meaning, liturgy can orient worshippers toward ideas of repentance and denial, and time spent at the altar in prayer can shape hearts. His objection was by no means wrong, just maybe incomplete.
What changed his mind was when a bus driver for the Houston Metro stopped curbside and leaned forward from the cab of his bus and asked, ‘Can I receive ashes?’. He did, and in that moment all of us who were there saw how unavailable the church can be. If I can get off work for an hour, make it there and back, have someone take care of my kids or bring my kids, then I can make a mid-week worship service. If I cannot do those things, the church is unavailable to me.
Which brings us back to the approachability of Jesus. He set the expectation for his church – be available.
In addition to the church, each of us might think about how open we are. Are you available for someone who needs to talk? Is your faith out there for others to see so that people know Jesus matters to you? The truth might be that each of us is a little more closed off than we would like to be.
This week, make yourself available and you might just find the words of Jesus being spoken by you.