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    The Visitor

    April 19, 2007

    Sunday, October 02, 2005 at 2:04 PM EDT

    Church goers at Southside Alliance were not expecting to see a homeless woman in the parking lot that Sunday in September. Charlotte Frazier herself wondered how she ended up in such dire straits. She hadn’t eaten for a whole day. She stunk. Her feet were wet and cold from wandering through rain puddles. But this was a church. Surely she and charity would meet here….

    The first vehicle arrived for Sunday school. It was Jack in his slick SUV. Charlotte responded to his hearty, “Good Mornin!” with, “You got a dollah? I wanna get me a Egg McMuffin. I ain’t eat since yesterdee.” Jack instantly produced a five dollar bill and slapped it into Charlotte’s hand.

    “Thank you very much,” the astonished beggar whispered.

    More church members arrived. Charlotte casually made her way over to anyone who she suspected might show some compassion. Peter, a teenager, invited her in and gave her a dollar. Sue, a classy, professional looking woman took the time to welcome her. Bill asked her so many questions she began to feel nervous. She wondered if there was a catch. No one had ever showed that much interest in her pitiful existence. Then there was Mike. He had a preschooler in tow. Charlotte let him off the hook and walked the other way. But to her amazement there he was, offering her a hand to cross the street. What was with this place?

    Eventually she heard the sound of music–the worship service had begun. Dared she accept the invitations to go in? Knowing she had nothing to lose and the hope that the unconditional love she met in the parking lot would be found inside, Charlotte stepped into the foyer of the church. She made a bold stride down the center aisle and sat on the front row. A woman behind her leaned forward and squeezed her arm reassuringly.

    The worship progressed and the congregation sang these words:

    King of all days you stepped down into darkness, 
    Opened my eyes, let me see 
    Beauty that made this heart adore you
    Hope of a life spent with you 

    Charlotte inched her way to the altar and knelt with her face in her hands. “Here I am to worship,” she sang softly. Immediately she felt an arm around her. “Did you know you’re beautiful?” the kind woman asked.

    When Bette and Charlotte were seated the pastor choked out a sermon on loving the unlovely. Then he closed with an announcement. “I’d like to introduce a regular member of our congregation to you. Her name is Faith Bogdan. Faith, will you come to the front please?”

    And I, Faith–Charlotte Frazier–walked sheepishly to the microphone as an astonished and befuddled congregation looked on.

    I tearfully thanked them for reaching out. They had not played church; they had been the church. The New Testament writer warns us to entertain strangers, because they could be angels in disguise. I’ll be the first to admit I’m no angel. But if you see Charlotte Frazier in your church parking lot next Sunday, be the church. I assure you that Charlotte–real or disguised–will be comforted and encouraged.

    One thought on “The Visitor

    1. Anonymous says:

      That so rocks it.may all learn to see with not just your eyes.

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