“There will be more rejoicing … over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine … who do not need to repent.”
It was a hug that I’m glad I saw. I don’t remember much about it because I was quite young at the time.
But one day my dad, the pastor of our church, brought me with him to a meeting of the church elders. And there, I remember, my dad hugged someone. I also recall there was a man who had tears rolling down his cheeks. And the person being hugged was that man’s grown daughter.
I learned later that the woman who was being hugged had come home—home to her family, home to her church, home to God. That was probably the reason for her father’s tears. It was certainly the reason for the hug.
The elders and deacons who were there may have felt a little awkward about hugging in the council room, but they were delighted because of the homecoming that had led to this holy hug. They were not modern-day versions of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day who resented that Jesus spent time with so-called sinners. The elders and deacons in the council room were thrilled to see that Jesus had touched this woman’s life with grace.
I’m glad I remember that holy hug. It reminds me of what the church, when it is doing its job, truly is: a home for sinners.
Dear Father, when the church is a safe place for broken people, it reveals you to the world. Move whatever needs moving in our church so that more holy hugs take place there in days to come. Amen.
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