I want to tell you a story about your abundance.
On Monday, expecting a regular day of Echo articles, worship prep and meeting with our Ministerial Residents (specifically Zane as he preached a great sermon on Sunday that needed to be evaluated, dissected and praised), I saw an unfamiliar car pull into the parking lot and a woman walk into the building. I knew why she had come; I always know why people come for that. David came by to let me know someone needed assistance, and after a few minutes, she–her name for the purposes of this article will be Bette, though it’s not near her name–Bette told me she needed money for gas so she could make it to the White Rock food bank.
I want you to know that I trust the Holy Spirit. Every time we can and should help, we do. Sometimes, it’s obvious that we shouldn’t help, and I’m still working on discerning if it’s my gut saying that and not the Spirit but I trust myself, though not as much as I trust God. So I said, “How’s this? Let’s go fill up your car, and then let’s go to the grocery store.”
“Do you have a food bank here?” she asked, surprised (I think?) because I didn’t tell her “No, sorry,” or “Oh, maybe.”
“Nope!” I said. “But we have like eight thousand grocery stores up the road.” Bette figured if she didn’t have to drive halfway across creation, we could just go to the grocery store, though I offered repeatedly to fill her gas tank.
So we went up to Tom Thumb. I will tell you the truth, it is weird to go with a stranger (getting more and more “friend!” by the minute, but a stranger nonetheless) to a grocery store, and it had to be much weirder for Bette for this awkward foodie to follow her through. I didn’t care what she bought–should I have? I don’t think so–and in the beginning she was very particular and modest in her selections for a ten-day supply of food for her and her two kids. “Get more,” I kept saying. “Get what you need,” because if I’m in trouble for this, let me be clear–we have different understandings of what it is to do Christianity, and I’m happy to talk with anyone about it. I don’t think that’s the case in the least, to be honest.
The cart was half-full of useful, keepable things, and we wheeled around one corner and she said, “Is it all right if I get laundry soap?”
“Do you need laundry soap?” I asked.
“Then get laundry soap.” We also got dish soap, just so you know. We made more rounds, and talked about life and her kids and Jesus Christ.
She asked me how long I’d been in ministry–almost ten years, which shocked both of us–and why I do it.
“Because I like Jesus Christ; I endorse his views of how and who God is.
And I really want to meet him,” I said. We turned to heaven and hell for a minute, and I had to clarify. “I think you might be Jesus,” I told Bette, who I’d met thirty minutes prior and who was making me a little late for lunch with a congregant. (I knew the congregant in question was awesome and would not mind my tardiness.)
“Maybe you’re Jesus,” she said back. I can assure you, friends, that I am not. But I understood what she meant.
What we might think as a paltry sum for groceries, Bette saw as a grand and divine gift. What we might think as a regular conversation, I saw as this beautiful and holy moment with someone new but as incredible and amazing as all of you. And in this brief breath in the grand respiration of life, we and Bette intersected in God’s grace and mercy and I have to tell you the truth–I loved every second of it. It was a moment of abundance and hope, of love unadulterated by fear or mistrust. And that’s what happened to a little bit of your giving to Midway Hills Christian Church this week. We had some resurrection happen, and I’ll be damned if that’s not something that we can see all the time if we just look.
This Sunday, we celebrate and remember the life of the saints who have gone before us–from Augustine to Pam Bristol, from Moses to Jack McCracken. We’ll be doing our never-the-same, not-boggy-but-traditional All Saints service, and we’ll be speaking to the truth that nothing, not even death, can separate us from the promise of new life. So sleep an extra hour (don’t forget to fall back! and lament that spring forward is now inevitably coming!), and I’ll see you Sunday. I am looking forward to it, you generous and inspiring folks.