Several years ago my friend Steve, a part-time music director, invited me to be a part of his Sunday band.  At the rehearsal on a weekday evening, I noticed a guy standing in the back of the room, watching us.  He was maybe 35, jeans and untucked shirt, longish 70’s hair, fairly clean-cut looking guy.  Swaying with the music, eyes closed, he sang along with us.  I assumed he was on staff, happened to just wander through the room, stopped to enjoy, maybe indulge in a little impromptu worship.

After about five minutes, he walked up to the band, and asked Steve, “Can I say something?”

Steve said, “Um…sure.  Make it quick.”

I thought, wow – they must have a good working relationship for Steve to talk to him like that.  Or maybe Steve was having a bad day, or perhaps even he was just jealous of practice time–something I appreciated.

But I was wrong on all counts. 

This is what the guy said:

“Your words are like surgery, cutting me open, opening up my veins…”  (Here he made a cutting motion, as if he were slashing open his forearm).  “The blood that flows from my arms redeems me…”

And so on.  He went on for about two minutes, thanked Steve for letting him talk, and walked out.

We all looked at Steve, who grinned and said, “That’s Bruce.  Every church has a Bruce, right?”

Anyone who’s hung out at church long enough knows people like Bruce.  Bruce was messed up.  I knew nothing about his history, but Steve moved up another notch in my eyes because he had compassion on Bruce, and didn’t shut him out.  I’m messed up too–maybe not so obviously as Bruce, but I too need compassion, and to feel like I belong.

Churches attract messed up people, but we shouldn’t be surprised. 

It isn’t surprising to find sick people in the doctor’s office.