Jesus taught them, saying, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” – Matthew 7:15-17 (NRSV)
The other week at Bethany, we were practicing music before worship. That morning our congregation of 50 was receiving 8 new members, and we were opening the service with the Mark Miller banger, “Welcome.”
“Let’s build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live…”
When we’d sung through it, our music director said, “I love this progression,” and played a couple measures from the song. It landed on this crunchy chord, full of dissonance and tension.
“The deceptive cadence,” she told us. It hung in the air like a question mark, wanting to come to a resolution but refusing.
“That’s the first-time visitors,” our soloist for the morning broke in, “wondering if it’s really true.”
“All are welcome, welcome in this place…”
A little while later, a new family of five arrived. One of their parents caught my eye at the door.
“Are they allowed to sit wherever in here?” she asked, motioning to her kids.
“They’re going to be disruptive.”
“So will mine. I’m OK with it if you are.”
I tried to be reassuring. But those are just words. Easy to speak. Easy to sing. Harder to live.
I wonder how she felt, what she experienced. I wonder if they’ll be back, if we’ll get the chance to show them that it’s true.
Loving One, make us as good as your word.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.