When I first shared my experience with the blue haired girl and friends, I noted the deep hurt I was hearing, but also the beautiful community created for two weeks. Then Brock challenged me further with his reflection.
For many, the image of home evokes love, acceptance and security, but not for everyone. It may be easy to comprehend a situation that is intentionally hurtful, but what about those “accidentally ostracized” by their family? Where do they find a place to be loved as they are? Isn’t that what home should be?
Jesus calls out to the hurting and marginalized. In fact, every time he is with someone marginalized, he stands with them in love and kindness. He welcomes them to the Kingdom. He welcomes them into his family without conditions. That seems like a good home to me.
Brock said to me, “Once a person is turned away from the church, asking them to believe there is a better way of knowing Jesus is much harder.” In Luke 13, Jesus is admonished by religious leaders for healing a woman on the Sabbath. After responding to the hypocrites, Jesus tells the parable of the Mustard Seed to describe the Kingdom of God.
He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches. Luke 13:18-19, NRSV
A mustard seed that someone sowed in the garden, that grew to become a tree, is now where birds make their nests. The kingdom is like a seed, when tended with care, provides a home to the fragile. It provides security and shelter to all comers. It produces more seeds that produce more trees that provide more homes to the fragile. That is a vision of the kingdom I can get behind, one that replicates love and acceptance without condition. The tree never says to the bird, “You can make a nest here, but first you have to change, or that I even expect you to change.” We might hope people strive to imitate Christ, but that is not up to us. What is up to us?
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” adapted Mark 12:28-31, NRSV
Our teenagers need us to show them a place where freedom is shared, self-expression is welcomed, and love is not a sin. We need to answer the call the other 50 weeks of the year to welcome our teenagers, all teenagers, home.