BY KATIE HAYS

 

Dearly beloved human, who used to come around our church a lot but now doesn’t, mostly,

We are not okay without you.

I know it looks otherwise. If you’re following us on Facebook and Insta and reading our tweets, you probably believe we’re fine. God keeps us thinking great thoughts and doing amazing stuff and loving our life together. That’s all true. Galileo Church is still Galileo Church; the ethos and the people you fell in love with haven’t changed.

Except that we have, because you’re not here. And what I want to say, without pressing you to feel one iota of guilt, is that we really wish you were. Here are my three best reasons why:

1. Galileo Church is about helping people know for sure that God loves them, which some folks among us have a hard time believing. The only way we can prove it is by being here ourselves. Every single time we show up, just by putting our bodies in proximity to each other, we are communicating acceptance and community and love. It’s the easiest act of kindness we ever do: sharing love by simply being here. When you were here, you were helping us with that, and we appreciated it so much. I’m worried we never told you how important it was.

2. When you were here, you shared significant parts of your life with us, and we feel responsible in no small way for your health and wholeness. It’s not that we have a messiah complex – or maybe we do, because we are, after all, the body of Christ. We say we exist to “shelter spiritual refugees,” and insofar as you were (are?) one, we intended to be of actual help. And now you’re gone, and we don’t really know how you’re doing, and that worries us. We still pray for you. We still give thanks for your amazing and beautiful life, and we still worry about how easy it is for you to think otherwise if no one is around to tell you the truth about that. We wish you’d come back so we could tell you to your face.

3. Because the thing is, we love you. I know it’s weird; in some important ways we barely knew you. But nobody crosses the threshold of Galileo Church by accident; we have learned to respect the deeply felt reasons each person brings, and we have learned to love people for their vulnerabilities and brokenness. So when we don’t see you, it hurts – not because we need your ass in a chair, or because our numbers are falling (they’re actually not, there are always new people coming around), or because our ego is suffering (though we would confess that we’re not above that, just working to make it less true all the time). It hurts because losing a part of your body hurts. It hurts because letting go of someone you care about hurts. It hurts because we love you. You can stay away, but you can’t make us love you less.

This is a letter I want to print and put in the mailbox with your address and a stamp on it. But I won’t, because there’s just no way to unattach it from the potential for shame. That is the very last thing we want for you (see #3 above). So how do we convey that we’re not okay without you, and that we would love to see you and catch up on your life and welcome you the way God has welcomed all of us? How do we communicate how good that would feel to us, how grateful we would be, to you and to God?

Maybe we don’t. Maybe we just write it down to keep our hearts soft, so that if our People-Whisperer God whispers you back to us, in such a subtle way that you’ll think it was your idea, we’ll be ready to receive you with open arms. And then we’ll all be okay. 


Rev. Dr. Katie Hays is the planter-pastor and Lead Evangelist at Galileo Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), or "Galileo" for short, in Mansfield, Texas. Galileo Church seeks and shelters spiritual refugees -- those for whom church is boring, irrelevant, exclusive, or even painful -- especially LGBTQ people and the people who love them. Galileo was born in the suburbs of Dallas-Fort Worth at Pentecost in 2013. galileochurch.org