I’m sure there are many other churches like ours. But I tend to think that the numbers are not large. If you drive a mile or less in one direction, you find homes in the million dollar range. Drive the same distance in the other direction and you find a tent city of homeless people. Between those extremes are people at all socio-economic and educational levels as well as cultural backgrounds. And, if you look around during a worship service, you see a snapshot of our community. I’ve always appreciated the fact that we are a multi-generational and multi-cultural church, but the significance of that fact recently settled in on me more deeply than ever.
On Good Friday we have a Drop-in Lord’s Supper. People are able to come as family groups, individually, or with a friend or two. They can spend time in quiet, personal worship and preparation for receiving the Lord’s Supper, remembering the sacrificial death of Christ. We have tables set with the elements at the altar with our staff spread out at the tables. As families or groups are ready, they may come to one of the tables where they share scripture and experience a time of remembrance and thanksgiving for God’s gift in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
As I finished praying for one of our families who have been long-time, faithful members and both successful and stable through the years, I looked up to see one of our newest couples. Financial success has escaped them. Having used all of their resources in a move to Austin from the far northwest on the promise of a job, they discovered that the job didn’t exist. They’ve been caught in a frustrating cycle. Without an address, most places won’t accept their job application. On top of that, most businesses now want applications filled out on line and interviews arranged by email. But they have no computer and the tent they occupy has no electricity. We’ve set up computers and our church family has provided some wonderful help to them and others who find themselves in the same situation. But that’s another story.
As I looked at these two contrasting families I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for God’s goodness to all of us. It doesn’t matter what we have or don’t have. It doesn’t matter whether we live in a home worth hundreds of thousands, or in a tent. It doesn’t matter if we arrive in a nice car or we walk. When we come to the Lord’s Table and to the cross, the ground is level. I knew that, but the reality became more powerful than ever to me that night as I looked at a living demonstration of that truth. We all come to the cross with a need that we have no hope of supplying. No matter what our resources, they are woefully inadequate.
I also thanked God for the privilege of being part of a church family who has opened wide its arms to all. It’s not just a church that allows people to come who are different from themselves. AMBC is a church that embraces people and walks with them into the presence of a Savior who has leveled the ground for all of us at the foot of the cross. It’s a taste of what heaven holds for us as we will worship together with every tribe, language, people and nation.