If you should happen upon an Episcopal Church early on a Sunday morning, you are likely to experience the joy of an 8 AM Rite 1 Eucharist. Usually, the earlier service is quieter, because there is not music. The service also sounds funny with Olde English.
Right in the very middle of the service, after the Confession and Absolution is a hang over from 1547 Order of Worship called "The Comfortable Words." After the priest absolves the congregation, she says: "Hear the Word of God to all who truly turn to him..." After that point, she reads the different passages of Scripture provided on the page.
The first line is "Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you..." from Matthew's Gospel. Every time I hear those words, I hear such welcome and relief. I hear Jesus' welcoming me, inviting me to be with him, near him, in this place.
"Come unto me," Jesus says. I hear his invitation. I hear: "Come unto me, all you with broken hearts. Come unto me, you who are called freaks and geeks. Come unto me, you who just cannot get it together, you broken down, beaten down ones. Come unto me and I will give you peace. I will give you rest. I will take away those labels and lies and hurts, and I will heal you. Come unto me!"
Whenever I hear the words, I feel a little choked up because I do and have felt the burden. I have wondered: "Where is my place in this church? In this world? Do I even have a place?" I have felt broken and crushed under the weight of cruelty or expectations or circumstance. I have felt like I have been traveling a long time, only to discover that I have already arrived at my destination, not even realizing that I had been looking. Only when I hear the words do I realize just how much I want that peace. I realize how badly I want to be welcomed and invited too. I realize that I needed those comfortable words.
These are the Words of God. These are the words of the true church, where there is a place of refreshment and peace for everyone, without exception.
So, right now, I invite you to hear the Word of God to all who truly turn to him:
Come to me, you freaks and geeks, there is room for you! Come to me, you with broken hearts and lonely hearts and angry hearts, here is a place for you! Come to me, you who are labeled and hurt and lied about, here is refreshment and peace for you! I will heal you. I will refresh you. I will give you peace. I will love you, and you will know it!