The mission field

I evangelized in Starbucks today.


First, I had a funeral this morning, under very difficult circumstances. As in the family was estranged from one another and rather than sharing bittersweet memories of the deceased took the opportunity to air some grievances that probably really needed to be aired. I hope I brought a little opportunity for healing to the situation, but boy was it awkward and painful, and more about God’s grace being able to intercede in broken family systems as people work through life transitions than about God’s grace bringing departed loved ones home.

Then I had two hours before Spanish class and no desire to drive in circles. Attired in my funeral suit, which either makes it very clear that I’m a pastor or makes one assume I’m auditioning for a role in The Matrix, I went to a Starbucks. As I’ve said earlier, I wear my clerical out and about because it is a form of evangelizing, but this time it actually did a little more than make people look at me funny.

I was sitting in a comfy chair by the fireplace when a middle-aged woman approached and asked if the seat next to me was taken. I told her she was free to sit down, noting at the same time that a. there were lots of empty seats around the cafe, and b. she was carrying a book on Centering Prayer. My acute pastoral skills tell me she’s recognized The Collar.

“I see you’re reading about centering prayer,” I say, turning my attention from my laptop to my companion. “You’ve picked a great chair.”

“Oh, yes, I didn’t want to interrupt you, but can I ask you a couple questions?”

And just like that, we’re off, and I’m describing my church and my denomination and she’s telling me that she’s a Catholic laywoman but feels called to ministry (boy is that familiar territory!), and we’re exchanging names and business cards and laughter. Look at that.

Off to the Community College, where the students who didn’t recognize my dorky tab collar can’t miss the power of the Funeral Suit, and ask me all kinds of questions (wait, you can have a kid? you can be married? is it fun? you had to go to *school* for that?).

So, today I utterly failed to complete any of the worship services for my annual conference and I didn’t come up with any ideas of something creative I could do for Pentecost (despite a Facebook chat with an old friend that covered salad, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Clue, children’s board books, and Greek frescoes, in no particular order). I did a pretty poor job at officiating at a funeral (or I did a good job but the situation was so difficult it was hard to see that), and I made no progress on a bulletin. But I was clearly where I needed to be. The rest, well that’s detail work.

2 thoughts on “The mission field”

  1. detail work, indeed! it sounds like you had a rad day, one you’ll remember for a while. hooray for the pastors’ wardrobe equivalent of the DeLorean–clearly outdated but still sooo undeniably chic!

    i wanted to let you know how moved I was by the previous two posts, but I’ve been rendered speechless…so mixed up inside with wonder and anger and frustration and just…brokenness over the psychic pain we humans put each other through under the guise of God. the posts also serve as a reminder that the denomination of my family’s heritage (the SBC) is leagues behind the UMC and PCA, and it just crushes my soul.

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