My friend and fellow tweep from Twitter @ChristieSays took this photo while she was at First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL. Her photo was the inspiration behind this post.
Hugging people we know is easy. It's easy to hug people that agree with us, look like us and act like us.
In church it's easy to hug the person you see every Sunday. It's safe. It's comfortable. But what about the single mother in the back row who has lost hope and can't pay the bills? What about the man who lost everything and came to church as a last resort? What about the drunk who came to seek comfort from people instead of his bottle? What about the man who is crying and considering suicide? Are you going to hug him? What about the man sitting in the corner by himself? Last night his wife discovered pornography on their computer. Are you going to hug him?
I love it when the church moves outside the walls to hug people that don't come to church on Sunday or any other day of the week. These amazing soldiers of God don't burn books or yell at strippers. Instead they take their hugs to the hurting, the lonely, the marginalized and the poor.
For the second year, various churches and ministries dropped any and all differences and brought hugs to Holly Hill, Florida. It warmed my heart to see the church doing what Jesus has asked us to do. These nutty Christ followers washed feet, cut hair, served food, gave away backpacks, passed out clothes and hugs.
One of my she-roes is Susan Kelley. She was at yesterday's event in Holly Hill. Susan hugs homeless, lost, dirty, stinky, drunk and depressed people everyday at the Daytona Outreach Center. It's easy to go to a homeless shelter and pass out food or free gifts during the holiday season. Susan and her husband Ray actually live with and love the homeless everyday. One of the men that live with them called Susan "mom" yesterday. Susan hugs me all of the time. She does hug like a "mom". In the photo below you'll see Susan doing what she does best: hugging messy people.
Yesterday while I was hanging out with Ray and Susan one of my homeless friends walked up to me. He looked me in the eye and softly said, "Mike, Jesus loves you and so do I." Then he hugged me. He smelled like urine, body odor and alcohol. It's strange. His hug made the smell go away.
The few, the proud and the brave are courageous enough to take hugs to the most controversial of places. Recently a group of Christ followers went to a Gay Pride parade. One of those zany Christ followers hugged a man in his underwear. See the photo below.
I looked for a quote to close this post. I thought this quote from Princess Diana was perfect.
“HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug : Heaven knows they need it.”