Back To Where it All Began

The idea for this new ministry actually began a few years ago at McDonald’s. I had an hour or so between appointments so I stopped by a McDonald’s to work and have a cup of coffee. I noticed that many retirees congregated there for social time. I’m not sure if it was formal or informal, but they had obviously arrived to see and talk to each other. I also noticed there were others who, like me, were just there to eat or work. And then I noticed there were people who seemed to be on the outside looking in, who were lonely and longing for a place to belong. I think you can see that in people. (More in a future post about how Tapestry came into being from this visit to McDonald’s).

To this day, I usually go to McDonald’s early in the morning on those days that I preach. Last Sunday when I was preaching at Bethany in Minneapolis was no exception. I normally wear my collar, too, when I will be preaching. Have you tried going to McDonald’s in a collar? It’s actually fun and brings about lots of conversations! At least for me.

As I was typing away on my computer, a gentleman walked up to me and asked, “What are you doing?”

“I’m working on my sermon.”

“It’s kinda late for that isn’t it?”

“Well, it’s pretty much done. I just like to edit in the mornings.”

“I preached once…” he said, and we continued to talk for awhile.

He told me a story from 17 years ago. At the time his wife was 48 and was dying of cancer. They were members of a Lutheran church in a Minneapolis suburb. They didn’t go often, it sounds like, but they went from time to time. Near the time of her death this family received a letter that said the church was removing this gentleman’s wife from the roster of their members.

He told me he called the pastor and told him, “We live about a mile from the church. If you cared so much about her you would have come and visited her and talked to her to see how she’s doing. This isn’t what the Lord wants,” this gentleman told me.

Well, I can’t speak directly to their situation, but I can speak to the extraordinary for me in this encounter, to continue from my previous post about God’s extraordinary work in the ordinary places in our lives. This is a gentleman who has felt hurt by the Church. Yet in this hurt, he still feels the extraordinary presence of Christ. He must have needed to share that story because the pain is still palpable 17 years later. And, he has actually gone to a Lutheran church a couple of times. God is still at work in his life!

And of course God is at work in us and in our communities of faith, inside the walls of our church buildings and as we are church in our communities. We all know we are broken. Yet the Spirit continues to work in and among us and to bring healing in those places of pain and suffering.

These are the encounters that remind me to be out in the world, listening to people, being open to the work of the Spirit and seeing Christ in my neighbor, and proclaiming God’s extraordinary love and presence among us. These are the lessons we are trying to learn as Tapestry, a community of faith that worships together, and a community of faith that gets out of a building and into the world around us to experience the extraordinary work of God in our lives and in the lives of those we encounter! Peace

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The Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Six months into my work as a Pastor/Mission Developer and I am finally writing my first blog post! Your thoughts and comments are welcome as I begin this adventure of blogging as part of our new ministry called Tapestry!

Last week I spoke with the people of Tapestry, our new bilingual faith community in Richfield, about the extraordinary work of God in the ordinary of our lives. We read the story of Martha anointing Jesus’ feet with very expensive oil one week before his death. The guests were having an ordinary dinner and then there is this extraordinary action by Martha in anticipation of the extraordinary life, death and resurrection of Jesus, this extraordinary promise and love for us!

The story can be found here in English: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+12%3A1-11&version=NRSV

Y aqui en espanol: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+12%3A1-11&version=DHH

I have to admit, that part of the reason I talked about this was because I was having trouble seeing the extraordinary work of God in the ordinariness of my life. I have heard it said that we preachers often preach as much to ourselves as to those listening to us.

And then, as so often happens, we experienced together the extraordinary in the ordinary. Thursday night we planned a community Family Night. We had invited women in particular, along with some of their children, to find out about resources for people who have been victims of domestic violence, including a presentation from Casa de Esperanza (http://www.casadeesperanza.org/) and a lawyer. It was a good presentation, but the people who came were all “professionals” from schools and other organizations.

Toward the end of our time together I left the room to use the facilities–what more ordinary thing is there! (TMI)? As I was returning to the gathering, I noticed a woman with her young son walking down the hall looking for something. I heard her speaking in Spanish so I asked if she needed help finding something. She was looking for another church group that worships sometimes in the same church as us. I told her they were not there that evening and I had thought she might be looking for our gathering. I explained to her what we were doing. She asked if she could join us.

“Claro que si!” I told her. She came in, sat down and shared her story with us. Her story was like so many other women’s stories and precisely why we had organized this event. Her vulnerability in sharing with this room full of strangers was indeed the Spirit moving among us. She and I spoke some more. She said she is part of another faith community but she has not found a place to be able to share here story there.

I shared with her that ss part of Tapestry, we have discussed starting a bilingual (Spanish/English) group for women, possibly with Casa de Esperanza or something based on a 12-step program like Al-Anon (http://www.al-anon-alateen-msp.org/index.html). This visitor and I will be in touch. She has another friend who needs support, too. We now have the opportunity to begin something new and needed in our community. We can start as an ecumenical group right away!

Two more notes about this encounter: This woman also asked about a group for alcoholics. We have bilingual people at Tapestry who are interested in this kind of a ministry, too! And, one of the English speakers who attended as a volunteer from Tapestry at the meeting found a way to use her gifts with young children by volunteering in childcare with MIRA (http://miraresources.org/) once a week!

God indeed works in extraordinary ways in the ordinariness of our lives. I pray our eyes and all of our senses are open to God among us today and every day!