The choir members stood quietly in their places.
The vibrant chords of the organ signaled the start of the Sunday morning service. I settled into the comfortable pew, moving a bit to the right past a dated felt hat blocking my vision. But wait. I saw a rocking movement working its way up the wide front steps toward the choir loft, a flowing robe with an uneven gait continuing upward to the men’s section at the top of the platform.
Having grown up as a pastor’s daughter, I knew coming in late was unacceptable, but choosing to use the platform steps instead of the side door was … well, forbidden. I shook my head. Somebody’s in big trouble.
As the man arrived at the empty place next to another choir member, a welcoming arm reached out and gave a strong side hug and a broad smile. The heartfelt hug spoke clearly, I’m so glad you’re here. You’re a part of our group. I thought you weren’t coming.
I realized then the latecomer was a member of our church’s “Special Friends” group. My stomach clenched. My hands went cold. Had I sunk so low that now I criticized a brave special needs man who was a member of our church choir? Growing up in church, I was aware of criticism. Now, many years later, had I become a criticizer?
My face felt wet. I wiped away the tears. Lord, please forgive me. I’m so sorry. Help me reach out with kindness to people. I swallowed and continued my silent plea. Fill my heart with compassion instead of critical thoughts.
I don’t remember the sermon that Sunday, but I will never forget the message.
Instead of judging, ask God to teach you how to love, show kindness, and accept others.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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