"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near." - Ephesians 2:13
Once in a while I drop in on my parents without warning. As I step through their habitually unlocked door, my mother always says, "Well, look what the cat dragged in!" Now, if you have an outdoor cat, you know the sorts of things real cats drag in—half-dead mice and string, wadded up balls of stinky moist things that appeal only to cats, and which they long to share with you.
Mostly you wish they wouldn't. But here's the thing—once a door is open, it's open; whatever comes in, comes in. There'll be all sorts of surprises, amazing gifts. There'll also be some bloody little messes to clean up now and then. But you'll learn a lot about what a cat thinks a treasure is, even if it would never have occurred to you to want it.
At some point, the Cat dragged each of us over the threshold into new life in Christ, and into the church, the trophy case for her eclectic finds. She didn't hunt us down and kill us, of course (which is where the metaphor breaks down), but scavenged us from lives half dead or all balled up to become her purred-over prizes. She lifted us by the nape and dropped us into each other's laps for discovery, safekeeping, and delight.
Having been brought like this from the outside in, how ungrateful we would be to curl up smugly and dream our dreams, while out there so many weird and wonderful treasures wait to be discovered, to be cherished, to be carried proudly home.
Open up our lives and our churches, O God. Let whatever comes in, come in. Teach us to purr over your prizes, to love our neighbors as treasures, and to scavenge the world from death to life, in Jesus' name. Amen.
J. Mary Luti is Visiting Professor of Worship and Preaching at Andover Newton Theological School.