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