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Plain and Simple for Jan. 10, 2013 / January 10, 2013
I had a great shock this past week. One of the most active members of our church had a massive stroke and passed away.

These things happen in any church but Connie was special. She had gone out of her way to make our family welcome to our new church. She was a ball of fire throughout the community and was never quiet for very long. I got to know Connie best because she helped me do Chapel with the kids from our preschool each week.

They absolutely adored “Miss Connie” and hugged her with all their might each week. I dread talking with them this Wednesday about her passing.

Connie went to Honduras each year, worked at a garden during the summer to raise vegetables for the poor, and was picking up groceries from our church for the hungry when she had her stroke.

She touched the lives of every person in our small community. There were very few dry eyes at our service Sunday.

I read an article just today that might summarize what Connie did best. The article said that Jesus really was a person who was more comfortable looking outside while the church then and now tends to look inside.

That is, we tend to want to take care of business within the walls of the church, to make sure we have everything we need to keep going.

Jesus was always running off to eat with sinners, drink with drunks, or talk with prostitutes. The church grows best when we can get out of our comfort zone and do what Jesus did: see what the rest of the world is all about.

Connie was a lot like Jesus in that way. Whether it was going to Honduras or working in the garden or talking to preschoolers at our Chapel time or simply making people feel welcome in Sandbridge, she was convinced that church often happens best when we catch people unaware that we are having church.

Sometimes we can talk theology as we look down our noses at people but I have seldom seen that be very effective as an evangelistic tool. On the other hand, a friendly welcome works wonders in the name of Jesus.

I cannot answer why people like Connie are taken while jerks and reprobates continue to haunt us every day.

Maybe it is because it gives us more time to reach out to them.

Connie already had taken the message of love and grace to heart and had it memorized and lived it. We are left to do our best to listen to that message and maybe share it with others outside the church who need it most.

That is what Connie and Jesus would do.

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