It’s good Friday and my family’s motorhome is parked on the campground where I first met Jesus.
I started going to Kid’s Camp here when I was a tender hearted eight year old and continued my annual pilgrimage to this place well into my teens.
There was a certain magic for me during those days. I was a bit of a denominational darling. Both of my grandfathers, an uncle and my father were all well known ministers of this particular brand of faith and I would delight at being recognized and regaled with stories from my older relatives’ days attending the same summer camp in their youth.
That was when I was an insider and it feels so good to be on the inside. Humans were created for connection and community and to be welcomed and seen and known feels like home.
Of course, I had no way of knowing that later in my teens, my family would fall apart and the disgrace of divorce would be compounded by the shame of the choices I would make to numb the pain.
The regret of my poor choices, however, was nothing compared to the agony of being cast to the outside.
So now, all these years later, I am back in this place and the sweet memories of being on the inside are tinged with a heaviness of knowing what it is to be on the outside looking in. Tear streaked face pressed against the glass, watching my former friends and family laughing and basking in the togetherness and warmth of the inside.
Today, on Good Friday, I’m reflecting on this day and what it means. What Jesus did on this day is reveal the truth of togetherness. And in stark contrast to the inclusiveness of the cross stand those who would try and perpetuate the illusion of separation – the self proclaimed deciders of who is in and who is out have believed a lie and tried to enforce their deception on others.
The Jesus I met on the tear stained alter all those years ago says that you and I are in. Full stop. We are in, no matter our race or religion or sexual orientation. No matter what we’ve done or failed to do. No matter the clothes we wear or the amount of money we have in the bank. The doors to the castle are open and the feast is prepared for everyone.
And the saddest thing of all would be if we mistook the power structures and branding machines, the in-ness and out-ness police, for the representation of Christ in the earth. Christ is represented by his people and they are easy to spot.
They will be the ones standing, arms open wide, smiles on their faces showing you the way to the open door. You belong. And you are so, so loved.