Red Rover, Red Rover

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When I was little, our neighborhood used to get together to play games after school and also in the early evenings.  Sometimes it was baseball or football.  At times it was tether ball or four square.  Once in a while, it was Red Rover.

Do you remember the line that goes with the game?  Do you remember the premise? 

Red Rover, Red Rover, send (fill in the name) on over.

Children would hold hands and make a human chain fence to block the children from breaking through.  The really strong and mighty ones would break through the arms immediately.  Ouch!  That would always hurt.  Those opposing team players would know the weakest link and would push past and succeed.

Sometimes, when we knew we had a tough opponent, we would hold onto forearms and not hands.  It made the link stronger.

It seems in this life, that there are definitely places where I feel I’m up against a team playing Red Rover.  Have you ever felt that way?  It’s the feeling that no matter what you say or do, how you dress or where you work, you can’t break in.

I believe it happens in small towns.  I definitely saw it with my youngest daughter’s school when we moved to a small town.  She was the new kid on the block in her senior year and she never could “break through.”

Or at times, I’ve watched it over and over with even the community itself.  No, we always use my cousin to plan that event.  No, my brother-in-laws neighbor always does that.  Oh, I’m sorry, for years we’ve done it this way, we couldn’t possibly change it now.

Maybe it’s your job, maybe it’s your neighborhood, maybe it’s your family, or maybe it’s even your church.

I’ve always been on the team that holds hands.  You see, up until last fall, I’ve been on staff working for a church for these past twenty some years.  Before that, I worked on church staffs as a volunteer, but really have been doing this most of these past thirty-seven years.  I know whose hands to hold and I know who can break through.

But this year, I’m the runner. This year my family has continued to search for the church where we will call “home.”   Red Rover, Red Rover, send Kathy on over.  And, yes, you guessed it, it’s tough breaking through.  I don’t fit in with the normal crowds because I was a Director of Worship.  I can’t break through the staff crowds, because I no longer am on a staff.  I’m the little girl who ran and pushed as hard as I could, but the really big boys in the neighborhood were stronger.  Now, it feels the same.

Why is this so?  Why is this an issue?  Shouldn’t we as Christ followers, the church, have our hands up welcoming you?  Should the body of Christ be standing in a line to critique, question and surmise you, (or even worse, uncomfortably ignore you) or should they smile, accept and welcome you in?

It really made me open my eyes to my own life and my own actions.  At the end of next month, I’m giving a talk on Purity of Heart, looking deeper at our thoughts, attitudes, actions, intentions.  Have I done this?  Am I a hand holder?  Or better yet, am I an arm holder?  Have I been working hard to keep people out?  Or have I held people off at a distance?

Do I pre-judge, pre-empt, pre-destine, pre-determine who and what I will accept?  Or are my arms reaching out and my hands welcoming those around me?

And then it hit me.  I realized something I had never really noticed before. 

The Ultimate Arm-Stretcher was Christ.

The Ultimate Welcoming Hands are nail pierced.

His last victorious acceptance of all of us was painful, but no one had to break through for Him to love us.  He just did it.

Arms stretched out.  Nail print hands. 

And it hit me just then.   I could hear Him saying the words:

“Red Rover, Red Rover.  Send the whole world over.”