Years ago, the phone rang late one Saturday night. The call was from the Police station. The person receiving the call was the Associate Pastor on my staff. They were holding her son, a college student, at the city jail, and they were willing to release him into the custody of his parents. Otherwise, he would be held until he could appear before the judge on Monday.
His charge: stealing pumpkins. It was Halloween, and his fraternity sent out its younger members to pull a fraternity prank. The boys were having a good time, stealing jack-o-lanterns off peoples’ porches, right up until they got caught by a police officer. Now, they were taken downtown and booked into the system. The poor preacher’s kid had never been in any trouble before, not even for a traffic ticket. Suddenly, he was thrust into a new, very different environment. He found himself in a holding cell with people he described as “real” criminals.
His mother was not happy, bailing out her son. She was not happy that she had been awakened and forced to retrieve her son from police custody. She was angry. Her son, trying to lighten the mood on the ride home said, “Mom, they put me in the cell with real criminals!”
Mom’s response: “You’re one of them now.”
The young man is now a father in his mid-thirties, has a good job, and hasn’t been back to jail. Seems as though what the police failed to do, his mother did quite well. She held up a mirror to him, and he didn’t like what he saw.
Today, we’re sitting in church with a bunch of real criminals, people who are guilty of violating God’s law. The reason I’m here? I’m one of them. And so are you. When we look in the mirror, we may not like what we see. There’s still time to change the reflection.
What we do here matters.