I wanted to find out if people who are very different from each other could be very much "in like" with each other anyway, not just in spite of, but perhaps...was there a possibility...that we could come to adore each other simply because? That we could discover something in each other we need? Could we actually... learn from one another?
With Suzette's encouragement, Dave and I started the group. We met in a downtown cafe and hit the ground running with wide-open stories shared by all. There were tears as spiritual journeys were laid out on the table, one by one. That first night I knew all over again what had caused me to want to do this in the first place: We all are spiritual. And we want more of the Spirit, however we define it.
More than one year later, we are still meeting together on a regular basis. Last night we had a potluck dinner at my house, and took a two-mile country walk, resting for a while in a hay field under summer solstice stars.We're quite the mix...
Pete calls himself a witch and is married to a man.
Rob makes haunted house calls and hunts down ghosts.
Molly is trying to figure out what she believes.
Theresa grew up in the church and left it by the wayside.
Tom was once a priest and now hates religion.
*Dave and Faith are born again Christians.
I know. Crazy, huh? Actually, it feels like the most normal and natural thing to do. I've been surprised (no I haven't) by the reactions I've gotten from (a few) religious folks:
Does it make you angry, the way they believe? (Um, no--it makes me angry how you look at them.)
Actually, I'm not angry at all. Because the truth is, five years ago I never would have done this either. But God changed-and-is-changing all that.
Do I come to this group with a religious agenda? Do I end each meeting with an altar call and an invitation to say the "sinner's prayer?" No, and that makes some people outside the group upset. (Interestingly enough, I've noticed through the years that many Christians who decry this sort of thing have little to show in the way of "fruit." Some tend to make more enemies than disciples, have a track record of broken relationships, and wonder why many around them are turned off to the gospel.)
And that is why my gay-pagan-wiccan friends need this group, and why I need them. We serve to remind each other that nothing can reach a human heart like love can.
God is love.
If you were to ask the group what I believe, they'd tell you in no uncertain terms what I'm all about. They'd tell you who I believe Jesus is, and that I really, really like Him. A lot. As in, He's-worth-living-and-dying-for a lot. They'd also tell you that I'm learning about Paganism (I know what Beltane is!), that I like to laugh and eat nonstop (the witch can bake!), and that I love to hear peoples' stories.
But what I hope they'd tell you more than anything else is that they know a little bit more what Jesus is like because of me. That I live the Gospel. I don't know for sure if they'd tell you that. But what I do know is that I want to follow Jesus so closely that they can't help but feel they've been with Him, whether I mention His name or not.
When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" Matthew 9:11
Stay tuned for part two, where I'll answer the FAQ's about this group.
*(Most) names have been changed.