We braved the cold and snow this weekend to go to church as we do most weeks. We were pretty proud of ourselves for being among the hearty few who risked life and limb to get to the church a few minutes early so I could hit the pile of donuts before all of the kids ran their somewhat less than germ-free fingers all over the pile. It felt like pretty much every other church service at River Ridge. I don’t mean to say that church is boring exactly…but it is usually pretty comfortable and predictable. We do contemporary music exclusively and it is well done. As KISS says, if it’s too loud, you’re too old…that definitely applies to River Ridge. But church is comfortable and easy most weeks.
Anyhow, after the singing and such, I settled in to listen to the preacher talk. I had a belly full of donuts so I felt pretty content. He gave his sermon which centered around the idea of doing something radical to make a difference. Now everyone says that in church. And in most typical churches, if anything at all comes from it, radical means something like clapping to the beat during a song or maybe someone swaying a bit or even giving an “Amen”.
But at the end, the preacher did something a little different (which is typical at our church). He told everyone about an organization called Soles4Souls which collects new and gently used shoes for people living in impoverished areas who may not have shoes. And then, he asked us, if we felt so moved, to leave our shoes in the barrels at the outer doors. No one knew in advance so folks had their normal shoes on (not old clunkers). His point was that giving your shoes, whatever shoes you had on, was radical at first blush, but in the grand scheme of things, a small gesture for most people. But the impact it could have in the lives of other people could be enormous.
I had my very nearly brand new tennis shoes on and Abigail had on her favorite cowboy boots. I have to tell you, at first, I really wished I had worn a different pair of shoes, but as I thought about it, I am pretty glad I wore my new ones. I don’t care who you are or what you believe or don’t believe, if you take a moment to think about it, giving your shoes away changed a life for the better somewhere in the world and that makes it worth doing.
So, we left our shoes and walked across the parking lot barefoot in 16 degree cold…and we got a lesson, albeit a brief one, in what it might be like for someone if we hadn’t given our shoes. What seemed so radical at first, really was such a simple thing…
edit: Some more details