by Ken Rolheiser
Come as you are party without social distancing

A story is told of a visiting pastor attending a men's breakfast in the country. An older farmer was asked to say grace. He began: "Lord, I hate buttermilk.” The visiting pastor glanced at the farmer.
The farmer loudly proclaimed, "Lord, I hate lard." Now the pastor was growing concerned. The farmer continued, "And Lord, you know I don't much care for raw white flour." By now everyone was uncomfortable. 
The farmer concluded, "But Lord, when you mix them all together and bake them, I do love them fresh baked biscuits. So, Lord, when things come up that we don't like, when life gets hard, when we don't understand what you're saying to us, help us to just relax and wait until you are done mixing. It will probably be even better than biscuits. Amen."

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). Wow! What an invitation. We do not need to wait until things are going well in our lives, until we have straightened up our conscience and cleaned up our acts. We can go right now!

This is a “Come as you are” party invitation. We don’t need a new suit or dress. If we are limping from the heavy load we have been carrying lately, and our makeup is smudged from the tears we have shed, the Lord says, “Come!”

Don’t even try to hide our sins. Forget the shame we always carry and even the remorse. Just go, and Jesus will give us relief. And this is the invitation Jesus gives us freely. We can accept or refuse. We can even put it off until next week if we choose. We are free to choose.

Jesus is more interested in blessing us than in cursing us; more interested in forgiving us than in punishing us; more interested in hugging us than in slapping us. Just get close enough to his warm invitation. Lord knows we are all a few hugs short in this covid-19 world of social distancing.

This is an invitation we don’t want to misplace. How often we have forgotten it in the past, especially when we most needed it. Those tough time could have been so much easier to bear. And the invitation is for an on-going relationship. The rest of our lives could be easier to face and easier to manage. The journey is so much lighter when we have someone who will carry us if it gets too rough!

My father used to salvage old nails from discarded granaries or old barns. All we had to do was lay them on edge and pound the raised side with a hammer until it was straight. A good carpenter could drive that refurbished nail straight into the wood.

And Jesus was the son of a carpenter. That rusty old nail can be restored! If we are ready to polish the rust off and straighten it out, there is new life waiting! How consoling a message for the keeper of bad habits or the souls that need mending. Take it to the Lord!

We are not made for this world, and it is hard to fit into the chaos and corruption that surrounds us. As heaven bound pilgrims, we are only comfortable when we are in the grace of the Spirit that Jesus came to bring. 

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