Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Make Church Great Again

Tattered white tennis shoe with soul coming off on red-clay dirt.

Make Church Great Again
by Suzanne DeWitt Hall

A voice we heard
at church, a month ago
reported scandal:
the pastor only had time
for the poor
the black
the gay.
A white woman
with white hair
spoke her white truth
with indignation
and sorrow.
The church she knew had changed;
its glorious past
no longer a shining present.
She wanted back
her club of privilege
that place where respect was properly assigned.

Her voice became a chorus
men spitting their rage
telling decades-old stories
of heroic contribution
of fallen places of honor.
The crowd screamed their demand;
the head of the offending pastor
a return to the attention they deserved.
Clamoring to make church great again
white again
straight again
theirs again.

I heard a different voice
last night
while working in the church kitchen
finalizing a meal we would serve for free
to struggling families
to the homeless
to the lonely
to the addicted.

My wife and I began this feeding
our queer audacity recognizing
that hunger comes in many forms
including the congregation’s need to serve.
But few participate.
The souls who come to be fed
are fuel for their rage.
They weren’t there when the voice spoke last night.

“What size do you wear?” he said.
A young black man;
our guest, Leland,
from the assisted living facility across the street.
“What size do you wear?”

He spoke to a ginger-haired guy
who sleeps beneath the stars .
and has no address
no phone
no way for possible employers to reach him.
who said he hates when it rains
because of his shoes
walked into tatters
the souls nearly disconnected.

“What size do you wear?”
Leland asked,
and hearing the answer
took off his shoes
gleaming white and stylish
and gave them to him
then walked barefoot
across the street
to get an older pair for himself.

The young man left later
belly full of home-cooked food
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in hand
shining new shoes on his feet
to walk miles in the dark
so he could sleep behind Walmart.

This is what church looks like.
Not the screaming white faces
demanding their due
because queer women
and black men
and a gay pastor
make them yearn for the days
when they didn’t feel uncomfortable.

5 comments:

  1. Beautifully awesome and lost in my own tears of happiness and hope in the soup kitchen called the welcome table xx

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  2. Awesome. This speaks to the hopes and dreams of so many of us that wish to serve and those who continue to serve in the face of uncertain times. Blessings.

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  3. You are a very gifted wordsmith!

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  4. my friends Curt and Deborah brought me to the Grace church this evening to experience something beautiful. Then Deborah showed me this awesome poem and story. A great experience. Wonderful people. Thanks. Bob

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