A New Brunswick friend of mine, with whom I trade puns regularly, posted some pictures of her lovely vacation in a rented cottage on Lake Erie in Ontario. They reminded of past holidays Linda, and I used to take. We would rent a cottage on Lake Erie and take my mother there. She lived in a Seniors Complex and so we could not visit her there, as we had when she kept a home of her own. One summer after several days of barbecues Mom decided she wanted to take us out to dinner. There were a few requirements for the restraint. It needed to have street parking close to the door. It also needed to have no steps. I drove slowly through the town until I spied a parking spot just outside the door of an establishment and the entrance was at street level! An answer to my prayers! Mom took my arm and the three of us sauntered into … a biker bar! I was a bit taken back but Mom seemed unfazed. “Do you serve food here?” “Yes, ma’am.”
We were soon ushered to a booth. We walked past all sorts of Harley memorabilia as I tried not to stare at the leather-bound inhabitants as they fixed their gazes on us. The tattooed waitress and the bar keep could not have been more hospitable to my mother. She seemed not to notice their apparel though I can hardly imagine what she would have said if teenaged Reed had shown up clad like that!
The pool players hushed their conversation and not a foul word was uttered in my mother’s hearing. The food was substantial and affordable. The entire visit was exceedingly pleasant.
My initial reaction was an inward groan, this was going to be an embarrassing disaster, but we were met with such grace and hospitality that I was ashamed of my thoughts. I had judged a book by its cover!
There in a biker bar we were recipients of grace and hospitality.
I can’t help but wonder what the result would be if the positions were reversed. What if the tattooed bikers with leather and boots burst in the door of our church? Would they find grace? Would they find hospitality?
The prodigal arrives with the whiff of the pig barn on him (true farmers know this scent), and the Father accepts him with open arms. You and I come with “righteousness as filthy rags” and find the amazing grace of God.
If God so accepts and extends hospitality and grace, then so should we! Even more, though, Jesus exhorts us to “go into the highways and byways” and cause such as these to come to.
This was to be our last such vacation. Mom became too frail to wander far from her residence, but we will always have the memory and lessons of “Mom & the Bikers.”