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(This was written by my niece on Facebook and I think it has an important message and wanted to share it.)

Would you invite this woman to your church? I’d understand if you hesitated to say "yes". After all, she’s laughing hysterically while holding a knife – both two major red flags. If you told me you are familiar enough with the Harry Potter stories to know Bellatrix Lestrange isn’t the safest person to have around Muggles (non-magical folk), I would rejoice in a thrift store cosplay job done well. But imagine your response if the knife and evil laughter were absent from the picture.

I bring this up because of a short interaction on the eve of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two movie release. My three teens and I were prepared to commemorate the end of the Harry Potter era in elaborate style. We planned to attend the midnight showing with my youngest as a Hogwarts student surrounded by Death Eaters. (My husband decided to play no part in the rest of our family members’ crazy antics, especially since he needed to work at church the next morning.) I was almost done transforming into Voldemort’s second-in-command when the doorbell rang.

I wasn’t expecting company yet, but quickly rushed to the front door. A modestly made-up woman in her forties or fifties, with neatly pulled back hair and wearing a very proper floral cotton dress, was there to greet me. As women, we couldn’t have looked more different. I was still in the process of distressing my hair into Bellatrix’s signature look, and my style was full out Goth girl. My entire outfit was black, from the elaborate shirt with the flouncy sleeves to the long skirt that looked like ripped layers of lace and taffeta. My naturally pale skin contrasted with heavy black eyeliner and full dark red lipstick. I wore a killer pair of black boots, especially if you define “killer” as having heels high enough to kill you if you try to stand or walk in them for more than fifteen minutes.

Although it was possible she was a neighbor I hadn’t met, I was pretty sure she was making a cold call “our church wants to know if you are saved” visit. Because I live in the Bible Belt, I have become very familiar with these types of visits. I have even developed a sort of traditional script in response. I am always polite when I answer the door. I planned to tell her "Thank you, that is very sweet, but we already have a church home." I had already decided to leave out my typical follow-up line "in fact, my husband is a pastor here in town." Sometimes religious visitors will still show an interest after that, and I'll chat with them for a little bit. I considered explaining that my unusual attire was just a costume. If she had been a neighbor, I definitely would have said something about my outfit, especially after my son arrived behind me wearing a cut up black shirt layered over another black shirt.

However, I never had a chance. When I answered the door using my usual polite suburban housewife voice, all I heard was a quiet "Hi, I'm from {mumbled} Baptist Church and we're handing out pamphlets today about being saved". I said "Thank you" as the nice lady handed me the pamphlet, but before I could add anything else she turned and walked quickly away.

Usually the door-to-door solicitation includes an invitation to Bible study or to services at their church. As I wrote earlier, I live in the Bible Belt, and I am used to these type of exchanges. In fact, there have been several times when I mentioned that I have a pastor for a husband, we own over a dozen copies of the Bible, have a vast home library full of theology books, have support from our denominations, attend church multiple times each week, and each have a lifetime of theological education, and my visitors still wanted to debate whether or not that was sufficient evidence that I am familiar with the Good Book. Yet this time, my guest turned her back to me, leaving me just barely enough time to say "Thank you".

My first response after I closed the door was to burst into giggles and post a short blurb on Facebook. After all, anyone who knows me knows that I am as far as one can get from Bellatrix - other than her enthusiasm and love of her job.

However, after the adrenaline rush of the movie premiere wore off, I started to reflect a little more about this exchange. What if the Bellatrix at the door wasn’t a pastor’s wife who was thoroughly secure in her love for both Jesus and her own church community? What if she was someone who was un-churched (or barely churched), and who decided to wear a costume to seek a sense of connection at a Harry Potter movie premiere, a private costume party, an entertainment convention, or a live action role playing event? What if this is the way she dressed on a daily or regular basis? Would she, or anyone, be helped by being handed a pamphlet on salvation without also receiving an invitation to community? It is hard to imagine why she would feel like accepting Jesus when his own representatives so clearly were not accepting of her. Should she, and her children, be denied an invitation to the church because of their appearance?

Berni as Bellatrix

Originally posted to michelewln on Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 02:47 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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