I’m sure you’ve all seen them, those quaint little signs in front of churches telling you that ”Jesus Loves You” and that “He who is without sin, should cast the first stone” and “Blah Blah Blah God.”
But I wanna see the signs like the ones Reverend Adam Ericksen posts in front of Clackamas United Church of Christ in Milwaukie, Oregon each week because they speak more about compassion and love and understanding than all those other Bible verse signs combined.
Like the one about ending white supremacy:
Or the one he put up as those so-called "heartbeat" abortion bills were becoming law:
Ericksen took over the pulpit at Clackamas United Church of Christ about eighteen months ago with just 30 people attending his weekly sermons. And, like any pastor, he looked for a way to increase those numbers and so he began to spread his message, from the front of the church, to the community, and now his congregation has more than doubled.
Looks like people are trying to find a voice of reason and compassion and love, eh?
His Biblically inspired messages are based upon that week’s sermon, or what's happening in the news, and the reaction to his signs have been a hit. In fact, many times his signs are posted Facebook and attract more than 10,000 shares:
"We've gotten hundreds of messages, including from transgender people who say they wish they had a church like this in their area. People are thirsty to know they are loved. In every area there are pockets thirsting for this message of radical inclusion."
Ericksen says there’s been little push back for his signs, though, occasionally people say the signs are a bit political; but that’s his point:
"Jesus preached the kingdom of God, and this was politically loaded message. His harshest message was for religious leaders who marginalized people."
And even better, the leadership of the United Church of Christ allows its local churches autonomy on most theological matters, so there is little chance of anyone halting his signs. In fact, Ericksen says he’s putting up the signs to honor his mother.
His family was, like mine, one of those holiday Christians, where you head to church a few times a year—if at all—and often leave early. In fact, Reverend Ericksen says he and his mom, who often "cursed like a sailor," usually left before the service was over to head to Taco Bell. And when she was diagnosed with cancer, Ericksen asked if she was afraid and she said:
“No. Jesus will save me."
And that’s how Ericksen came to be a pastor; and that’s the same message he's now sending to Muslims, immigrants, African-Americans, the LGBT community, the sick and the poor each week through a sign now seen around the world.
It’s just love.
On a sign beside the road.