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1 Corinthians 4:1-5

The downtown storefront church space had quickly become a hospitable place for people feeling out of place in traditional communities of faith. The door was open consistently on weekdays for those with nowhere to go so they would have someplace to be. A self-serve PB&J bar and coffee cart with abundant supplies was accessible to all. Anyone could fix a snack without asking for permission. The place was intentionally set up to serve those who face the tension that comes with city life. The pastor had done her homework. She had studied well enough to begin to confidently experiment with practical ways of serving people in hope of building rapport within the neighboring community.

Practicing a missional approach proved it wasn’t unusual for someone to appear inebriated at the little church space. No one was turned away. One Friday afternoon a “regular” appeared intoxicated and rather sullen. It was well known that he had spent a considerable number of years in a prison. At times he would share a scenario of a violent crime that occurred when he was a much younger man. He muttered repeatedly that he was unforgiveable. Time and again this man would arrive at the storefront and quietly proclaim his sorry lot in life. One Friday afternoon he started once again to repeat the familiar refrain.

“I’m unforgiveable.”

The pastor had invested a considerable amount of time in this man’s company. Trust had begun to rise between them and she sensed the time had come to disturb the waters.

She began, “You know I’m tired of hearing you say that you are unforgiveable. May I tell you something?”