The church bells rang as they walked up the steps. Anna held Dana’s hand.
“You’re cutting off the circulation to my fingers,” Dana said.
“Oops,” Anna said easing her grip. “I’m just…”
“… nervous,” she said with a smile.
Anna leaned into Dana and let her beloved’s calmness settle over her.
The usher at the door smiled and said, “Good morning,” as he handed each of them a bulletin.
They took a seat in a middle pew and Anna scanned the crowd. No stares or glares.
The service started and Anna participated, but her focus was on the church-goers. She looked for side-eye glances and whispers, but found none.
The reverend started the sermon and Anna watched Dana. She wore her calm face and Anna relaxed in the pew. This had been Dana’s idea. She wanted a church family. They had agreed to look and this was their first stop.
Anna focused on the sermon. “… gospel. The purpose is to ask questions. You can’t grow if you don’t.”
Anna looked at Dana. She had her arms folded across her chest, and she fowned. That look said they wouldn’t come back here.
Anna turned back to the reverend. “When he said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,’ he was using the child as a symbol.”
Well, duh, thought Anna. The innocent will go to heaven.
“First you must understand the attitude toward children in Christ’s time,” the reverend continued. “They were marginalized mostly because many of them didn’t survive to become teenagers. Why put your heart into something that wouldn’t be there later? Parents did their best to help them survive, but aside from that, they weren’t given the attention and opportunities that our children have today. What Jesus was really saying was the marginalized, the other, the ones that no one wants, are loved by God.”
Huh, Anna thought. That’s not what I expected. She looked at Dana. Her frown had deepened and her eyes were locked on the reverend. A tear escaped her eye and rolled down her cheek. Anna understood the frown now. Dana was trying to keep her tears from escaping.
Anna looked back at the reverend. “… why the door is open.”
Anna looked over her shoulder, and sure enough, the church door was open.
“All are welcome at this table,” the reverend said.
“This is our place,” Dana said.