Where Do I Go From Here?

He might have been drinking before arriving. 9 AM wasn’t too early for him to begin …

Wherever you go, I will go. You don’t have to be a biblical scholar for these words to have a familiar ring to them. The song is sung at weddings and at funerals. (Not to be confused with the more contemporary “The Calling“.) The passage from the Book of Ruth is all about attachment and commitment. Christians see it as a foreshadowing of the work of the messiah – “God with us.”

Wherever you go, I will go. Where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God will be my God, too. (Ruth 1:16.)

Perhaps Ruth thought it better to attach herself to her widowed mother-in-law now that she herself was also a widow. Where in the ancient world was it safe for a once-married young widow to go? In need of some kind of identity, Ruth proclaimed to Naomi: “Your people will be my people…”

A cold morning makes a hot shower all the more enjoyable. Some like to linger just a bit to talk, to let the warm seep into their bones. He tends to hang around as long as he can – to talk, to play the piano, to show you card tricks – anything so as not to have to go too soon back out in the cold.

“Go back with your own people,” says Naomi to her daughter-in-law; but Ruth wasn’t just looking for a “people”. She was looking for something more – something deeper.

He is bright and he knows how to play with your emotions. He can be most unassuming; and then, he is asking you for money.

Naomi acquiesces; Ruth accompanies her. Upon arriving back in her home country – her husband and two sons having died and with this foreign-born daughter-in-law in tow … now what? Where do we go from here?

He was the last one to shower. He was lingering as long as he could, milking both the warmth and good graces of the volunteer for all they were worth. Knowing this was his pattern, I went to intervene. He seemed to know my presence meant it was time for him to leave.

Sometimes someone says something out of the blue that stops us in our tracks. It helps us – or forces us – to see the world from a different perspective.

I wished him well as I escorted him up the steps. Many times I’ve thought to myself: “He is someone’s son.” I knew I had to pull the door tight behind him; he is apt to let the door close on its own which means it doesn’t always latch.

He stepped out of the door and as I was pulling it closed he turned. In an instant he seemed to be innocent – not just homeless, but helpless. Helpless even to help himself. I looked at him as he looked me in the eye.

Where do I go from here, pastor?

What? What did you say?

I said: Where do I go from here?

Maybe you have had the experience in which you couldn’t wait to get rid of someone even as you didn’t want them to leave.

Go someplace warm, I told him as I closed the door on him, keeping the heat in and the cold out. And it has bothered me ever since.

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Remember Miley Cyrus’ guest at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards? Jesse’s acceptance speech.

Bad Press for a church in SF.

Not On Our Church Steps … We have a better idea.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.