December 7, 2017
"I was a stranger, and you welcomed me." -Matthew 25: 31
When I arrived at First Presbyterian Church, Doug’s face was one of the first I saw. He sat in the second row at the end of the pew. I never asked him why he always chose to sit there, but I suspect he wanted to be close enough to the front to see and hear what was going on. He didn’t want to miss anything.
So, even at first glance, I recognized that Doug was different from other members of the congregation. If everyone were like Doug, the front pews would be packed every Sunday! Instead, most folks like to linger back, somewhat out of view of others; perhaps not as concerned as Doug about missing anything that might happen up front.
Doug was different. He struggled most of his life. First with the problems of his parents and his own disposition; then later with a traumatic brain injury. But Doug was not alone. Doug belonged. Doug belonged to God, and Doug belonged to US. The church was his home. Through the years, faithful members of First Presbyterian have helped him along his way. Last Sunday, when he was absent from his pew, several people asked about where he might be. This is not a question I regularly receive about all the rest of us. Doug was special. Special to us.
I have been thinking about Doug almost non-stop since he has died. Wondering why all of us can’t take care of the rest of us who are different, a stranger, or just a person in need. It seemed so normal and natural with Doug. Perhaps it felt normal because this is how God made us. To care for each other. Anything else seems not quite right. Doug helped us to see what was right. He blessed us.