Every time I read through the gospels I am reminded that Jesus was constantly on the move. He went from town to town and gathered people around him. Though he did spend time in the temple (to turn tables over) and in the synagogue (to make the congregation mad) the majority of his time was spent with the everyday people as they lived their life. From tax collectors collecting taxes—and then being called to follow—to a Samaritan woman at the well, to an evening house call at a religious leader’s house, Jesus went where people were found.
It is in those places that the presence of God’s kingdom was experienced. Healings, restorations, exorcisms, resuscitations, and feedings happened in the midst of every day life. His teachings were often the offshoot of conversations with the powerful, religious, and educated. Even those teaching moments mostly happened among the people. In fact it is interesting that the one time that we hear of happening in the temple, his teaching was so radical that people wanted to kill him!
So I’ve been wondering why church folks spend so much time with other church folks? Why do so much of what we consider church stuff happens in the campus of congregational buildings?
When I was in Seminary I lived in student housing at a place called Turner Village. There we lived among other seminary students and were able to share the ups and down of life together. We celebrated the unexpected check in the mail, the good grade that was hard to get, and the special revelation received during our internship placement. Some of these connections happened at the mailbox or as we were doing and going but most of it happened at the laundromat on the basement level of one of the buildings.
The laundromat becoming a third place, a gathering place were stories were shared and the realities of life spoken. It was real, at times the most real place that we could find.
Since those days we’ve had our share of laundromat moments. There was the one behind the apartment complex we lived in during our last year in seminary. The one we visited the time that the dryer broke and the ones we would drive by on our way to a misional site. Each time I thought that if Jesus was hanging out today, he would most likely have a laundromat or two that he would frequent.
There we all have something in common: we need clean clothes. We also are paying top dollar for a service but when you do not have the cash (nor the credit) to buy a washer and dryer you have no choice. In our case today is a temporary inconvenience, but for most whom we met it was their way of life. They gather mostly on Saturdays and Sundays and attempt to get their laundry done. T.V.’s mounted on walls to entertain as you wait and a coke machine ready to make you caffeinated. There are also folding tables that make it easier to fold all your clothes. As all of this is happening you share stories, frustrations, and hopes.
Tomorrow I end my sermon series called “I believe” with a sermon on “I believe in the Church.” I am wondering what it would look like to be a body that lives its identity beyond the walls of our sanctuary spaces? A body that draws others to gather for praise and thanksgiving due to its commitment to being disciples in the places where they live, work, and play?
People need to experience Jesus. All of us do. I believe that if we took the ministry of Jesus on the road, if we went as a people who healed, reconciled, exorcised, raised the dead, and brought good news the kingdom of God would be experienced. The people at the laundromat would say “today salvation has come!”
It would change everything . . . Enough for now and can’t wait till tomorrow.