In this last post from Phase Three of Jen Hatmaker's book 'Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity' we get a glimpse of their interaction with Shane Claiborne, an interesting communion, and going shoeless.
They met Claiborne through a random email after they read his book 'The Irresistible Revolution' (who didn't that book impact?). Brandon (Jen's husband) merely sent an email about how it had impacted their lives. And Shane asks if they can meet for coffee!! He was visiting their town to speak at a small Asian-American church on Easter night. The Hatmakers had endured SIX Easter Sunday morning services at the mega-church where Brandon was working, but they went. The church where Shane was speaking was, as they said... "It was completely unproduced and humble, all of it. It smacked of regular people and simple church; their only preoccupation was this obsession with Jesus."
During the service Shane had shared about just coming from a homeless community in San Antonio and their need for good shoes. So... then this happened...
As we were about to take Communion, Shane said, "You are under no coercion, but if you want to, you can leave your shoes at the altar when you take Communion. Oh! And leave your socks, too. We'll wash them and deliver them to the homeless community in San Antonio tomorrow."
Two significant particulars: one, Easter 2007 in Austin was unseasonably, crazy cold. Like thirty-one degrees that morning cold. Understand that in a typical April in Austin, we would all be wearing shorts and flip flops. Guaranteed. From the youngest to the oldest. As it was, every person there had on real, substantial shoes because it was freezing outside.
Two, Brandon and I looked down at our shoes in unison and just started laughing. (Well, he laughed, and I cried.) Why? We were both wearing the brand-new cowboy boots we'd given each other for Christmas. By a huge margin, they were the most prized and expensive shoes we'd ever owned. I loved them so much that I gave them their own special box in my closet where moth and rust could not destroy.
Having thrown myself into this arena for a few months, I thought I would be thrilled to rip those boots off my rich feet and give them over to the homeless (who would promptly sell then since they are entirely impractical and worth a pretty penny - I've learned a few things). But I was discouraged to feel the twinge of selfishness rear its head first. Seriously? I'm going to make a deal over boots? Have I come only this far, God? I stink.
Jesus, unwilling to entertain my melodrama, cut to the chase: "Give them up. I have something to teach you." Evidently, this moment was not about me and my urban cowgirl boots. So I took them off, raised them to my lips for a farewell kiss - oh, okay, and an embrace - and Brandon and I left them at the altar along with our socks and the last remaining thread of reluctance.
I'll not do the moment justice, but at the close of the service, I watched all these smiling people gladly walk barefooted out into the cold, and I heard Jesus whisper, "This is how I want My church to look. I want her to rip the shoes off her feet for the suffering every single chance she gets. I want an altar full of socks and shoes right next to the Communion table. I want to see solidarity with the poor. I want true community rallied around My gospel. I want you and Brandon to figure out what it means to be a barefooted church."
A barefooted church.
Yeah... leave it to Shane Claiborne to lead someone into Christ's presence like that...
Jen closes this "phase" of the book with this quote from Richard Rohr:
The Gospels say very clearly that God loves imperfect things. But it's only the imperfect and the broken who can believe that. Those who don't have anything to prove or protect can believe that they are loved as they are. But we who have spent our lives ascending the spiritual ladder have a harder time hearing the truth. For the truth isn't found up at the top, but down at the bottom. And by trying to climb the ladder we miss Christ, who comes down through the Incarnation.
Man, stuff like this makes me long for the days when our church was random and raw and unrefined. This is the sort of thing that really turns me off about the church we're involved in now. However, I have to realize that it's just the Sunday show that is bigger and more polished and refined. So, in a way, I'm wondering if this isn't actually a good place for us to be at the moment. Imagine... what if God has sort of lent his hand here, and wants to teach us about ministry as 'people,' rather than as part of a local church? Not that it's wrong to do things as part of a church - we should - but it also doesn't need to be done as a programmed sort of thing. Maybe I/we need to learn how to love and serve people simply (organically) as part of our everyday lives. Hmmm...
Anyway, good, good stuff. I will pick up with the next "phase" of the book... probably tomorrow.