Saturday, June 26, 2010

The butcher's counter

I had and experience today that reminded me of an old friend whom I dearly love and respect. I was standing at the butcher’s counter in the grocery store, trying to figure out what I knew how to cook while Jenn is away. The guy behind the counter with whom we’ve chitchatted at various times looked at me said, “You teach music don’t you.”
“No,” I replied, “I have taught math on occasion but mostly I teach theology.”
“Oh, you mean like the Bible.”
“Are you protestant? I have a bible somebody gave me a long time ago, and I like to read it but you know sometimes Jesus says things that I just don’t understand, could you explain it to me?”
I now have an appointment Sunday afternoon to visit him and his wife to talk about the Bible. That unexpected moment took me back to some debates that happened in my former church. When I first started there, our denominational handbook suggested that pastors should make 15 visits a week. (It was changed a year or two later.)None of the pastors I had known made that many calls in a week and the pastors I knew seemed to suggest that it was a ministry model from a bygone era. However some church members figured it was “in the Manual” and ought to be done. After all, Rev. Knoll did it.
At that time, John Knoll was a retired pastor participating in our church. Early on he’d taken me around to meet people in the community, and prayed with me weekly. I appreciated him and still do. During the time that I was wrestling with the issue someone commented to me, “Oh yeah, if John sees someone in the grocery store and says “hi,” he counts that as a visit.” I’ve never asked John how he “counted” his visits but I can see something like that being true. You see Rev. Knoll is someone who always lives “on mission.” I can believe John would have taken notice of a chance conversation at a grocery store, because he is always looking for opportunities that the Lord is putting in his path, takes every opportunity to follow them up. That’s one reason why I respect him.
I know there are times when I’m ready to retreat. I’ve punched in my time card and my shift is over and I want to just check out for awhile. But being a Christian is not a nine-to-five job, and often God puts opportunities where we’d least expect them, including the butcher’s counter at the grocery store. I don’t know where this opportunity will lead but I’m trying to stay, “on mission” regardless.

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