The doorbell rang around noon yesterday. This happens much less often than you might imagine, so my first thought was, “UPS? FedEx?” I grinned at the prospect of a Christmas package. (I was going to say “belated Christmas package”, but it is totally still Christmas, so please keep those gifts coming, friends.)
Instead, it was the second most likely possibility: Mormon missionaries. As soon as I saw the pair of clean cut young men in white shirts and black jackets, I knew who they were. We saw Mormons all the time in our Mexican and Puerto Rican neighborhood in Milwaukee, where they were usually playing basketball with what I’m sure were Roman Catholic children they had little hope of converting.
I can’t imagine they do much better around here. We were visited by another pair this fall, and one of them said to Mike, “Everyone keeps saying they’re Lutheran. What does that mean?” When I mentioned at Bible study yesterday that the Mormons had been to our house, all the ladies were stunned. (Pro Tip: Jehovah’s Witnesses are more prevalent than Mormons in these parts. The Mormons come all the way from Hutch!)
It will not surprise you that I, a Lutheran pastor, disagree with most of what I know Mormons believe. I’ve been to one sacrament meeting, and my seminary classmate and I could not quite figure out the appeal. I mean, it was a bunch of friendly, attractive people in their early twenties, so I guess I see the appeal, but we didn’t find much to sustain us in the meeting itself.
But the two missionaries who stopped at my door yesterday were perfectly sincere. They didn’t push their message on me (“I’m a Lutheran pastor” can be a surprisingly effective conversation ender, even with Mormon missionaries), but they did ask this: “Do you know if anyone in your neighborhood needs to hear about Jesus Christ?”
Well, holy buckets. You got me, Mormons. I’m pretty sure everyone in my neighborhood needs to hear about Jesus Christ, not because they’ve never heard but because it is life-giving good news for the whole world. And I can’t tell you about who specifically needs that good news, because I still don’t know my neighbors very well. And that is pretty embarrassing to admit.
No matter what I think about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I appreciate the reminder that caring for my neighbors and sharing the good news is part of my Christian vocation.
Also, the last missionaries who visited raked a bunch of leaves for us. So, thank you for that. I mean it.
Note: Of course I know that instead of “Mormons” I should say “members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”, but “Mormons” is just so much easier to type.