Here's the Church

by Hazel Sloan

I had observed the young boy investigating the empty dryers and washers when I entered the laundromat. Finally, he tugged at the door of a washer in operation. Thank God, it did not budge! He sauntered back to the chair next to mine and sat down.

"I saw you take that magazine out of that rack and I bet you're gonna take it home. That's stealing!"

I closed the magazine I was reading and glanced down into large, brown, accusing eyes. I guessed the child's age to be five. He collapsed into an exaggerated, high-pitched fit of laughter. Before I could deny the accusation, he grasped both of my hands, instructed me to interlock my fingers and passionately chanted:

"Here's the Church and here's the steeple.

Open it up and see all the people!"

He repeated it very slowly and energetically several times. I felt he was trying to imprint those words in my mind and heart because he thought I was attempting to break a commandment — "THOU SHALT NOT STEAL."

His grandmother stacked her neatly folded clothing in a basket and called the child to carry her purse to the car. On his way out he turned and warned me: "Now, don't forget to put that magazine back where you took it from." Isaiah 11:6 stirred my heart: "And a little child shall lead them." I immediately put the magazine back in the rack.

". . .Open it up and see all the people." Past and present images of worshiping in my church and with my church family came to mind. Martin Luther stated it so explicitly when he said, "At home, in my own house, there is no warmth or vigor in me, but in the Church when the multitude is gathered together, a fire is kindled in my heart and it breaks its way through."

We are the Church! We are ordinary people going about our ordinary lives, believing a Church must do the things of God — a God of love, a God of grace, a God of liberation, a God of justice, a God of truth, a God of the poor and downtrodden, and a God of salvation and forgiveness for those who obey.

Does the Church experience trials and tribulations? Yes, because we are not perfect. We are ordinary people, created by God and redeemed in Jesus Christ. We know that because of Him we can face the future. "His love has no limit; His grace has no measure; His power has no boundary known to humankind." Let us all love and serve one another as Jesus so patiently taught.