It seems a young man in his early 20s was having trouble with his father in one of our local communities. (I won't mention the name of the community because it doesn't matter.)
The two would argue and the father would kick the son out of the house.
The son suffered from some sort of mental disability. His level of functioning was very low.
Each time his father kicked him out, the young man would wander the streets of this particular community, looking for a place to stay.
He began finding his way into the local churches. He looked for doors left unlocked or windows left open. Once inside, he would sleep.
In the morning, he would rise, leave a window ajar in the event he needed to return that evening and leave.
He never broke anything. He never stole as much as a communion cracker.
Well, the churches in this community became abuzz with distress.
"There is a 'scary man' breaking into the churches," they informed one another.
Special measures were taken to ensure all windows and doors were locked. Keys that had been given to various groups and organizations that met in the churches were collected. The police were notified of this menace roaming the streets.
He was "caught" and referred to a social service agency.
Are you sick to your stomach? I am.
Not a sanctuary
An individual in desperate need of help, searching, seemingly in the "right" place, finds more hostility in the "sanctuary" he has chosen than he had encountered at home.
I believe he would have had better luck at the local bar. It would have at least been open.
If the stained-glass windows are more important than helping homeless people, take them out and put them in a home.
If the golden Communion cup is more precious than children, sell it and buy food for starving babies.
If the pastor's gown and the choir robes are too special to be touched by dirty hands, throw them into the streets for those who have no clothes.
No need to worry about the cross that hangs over the sanctuary, no one wants to carry it.
The Catholic church has spent billions protecting and defending its repugnant priests snared in the child-sex scandals.
Those dollars could have done a lot of good in this world.
Instead, it has been squandered defending men who should be hanged in the public gallows for the harm they have done to this country's greatest resource -- our children.
The biggest wretch of a drunk at a bar has more sense of righteousness than to defend and protect the actions of these priests.
What about love?
Most likely, the drunk has had his share of encounters with religion.
A "religious" friend has more than likely tried to convert the drunk by using the "biblical" tools of condemnation and judgment.
That thing about love was most likely forgotten.
Far too many of my fellow Christians subscribe to the religious belief that Jesus died for their sins so that they may judge one another.
There is more bickering than ministry in most churches today.
Perhaps that is why only 1 percent of the churches in America are growing. Meanwhile, the bars are full.
A wretch knows the difference between religiosity and love.
A friend of mine said he quit his church men's group.
"They wanted to get together and play cards and go to breakfast," he explained. "I wanted to build ramps for people in wheelchairs and rake leaves for widows."
Now there's a concept. Helping the poor, the infirm and widows -- not to mention the homeless wandering the streets.
"What you do unto the least of these, you do unto me," Jesus, the personification of love, once said.
The church has spent enough time doing unto the least of things.
It is time to put people first; unlock our doors and our hearts and reach out in love.