Nothing makes me feel younger/cooler than zipping (or bouncing) around town in my husband’s bright red Jeep Wrangler. And I am – bouncing around town in his Jeep - because he has my car. I put in a day, headed out to the parking lot, turned the ignition and heard……click. That’s it. Just click. The Jeep was deader than a Dodo bird and there is nothing cool about sitting in a Jeep in 100 degree TX July weather at 4 on a Friday afternoon. Click. Click, click. Xxx!!!!!## Oh, dear.
I called my friend, Gale. She called her 17 year old grandson, Blake. 15 minutes later he pulled in with jumper cables and his own new used pickup. I put the Jeep in neutral, my friend, April, climbed in it to steer while we pushed it out into the parking lot. Blake pulled his truck up, created jumper cable magic, and presto zappo the Jeep started. Thank you, Jesus! I am now bouncing around in a bright red Jeep with a brand new battery.
Here’s the deal: maybe we get all het up over finding God in the wrong places. Church is great – I love church! Retreats, conferences, seminars, and assemblies are fabulous. I go every chance I get. Places and times of intentional worship are vital. But God isn’t someplace else. God is right here, right now. Even if that means the auto department at Walmart late on Friday afternoon.
I got to call a friend, connect with a great teenager, and rest my feet in air conditioned space while my “still under warranty” battery was replaced. I had to slow down, take a detour in my day, notice people I wouldn’t have seen, talk to people I wouldn’t have been seated next to otherwise, and rest awhile out in the real world where people God is crazy about are working, sweating, paying money, struggling to get home, and carrying their own struggles, fears, and challenges as they go.
If we don’t take our God love, God spirit, God understanding with us out into the world when we leave church, we are missing in action as part of the Body of Christ. If we can’t see the Holy around us when a 17 year old comes to our rescue, if we can’t smile and be patient with a worn-out over-worked clerk who can’t get our battery core-charge straightened out on her computer, if we don’t feel compassion with all those folks around us doing the best they can, we need to do a service call on our prayer life.
I was hot and cranky. I took a dim view of being stuck with a dead red Jeep. I moaned aloud and kicked the tire – hard – at the line of people in front of me at the battery place. All I could think was how hot, tired, inconvenienced and miserable I was. Then another tired person smiled and invited me to sit down. People made room for me. People were courteous. People were willing to shoot the breeze to help pass the 90 minutes I was there. A waiting patron watching work through the big shop window thrust his fist in the air with a big grin and said, “You’re Jeep’s done, lady” while the person next to me gave me a high 5.
People I didn’t know and a teenager I knew. People who didn’t need to care. People who just smiled and made room for me. A mechanic who fit me in. Do they know how much they meant to me in that moment? Do they know how much God loves them in all moments?
Church is real when it helps us see God in sweaty mechanics bays and all the other places that belong to God whether the people there know it or not. Church gives life when it wakes us up to the reality of God among the people we are least likely to encounter in Church. Church matters when it helps us learn to navigate through stress with serenity greater than our native calm and see with more than our native compassion. Church transforms when we become those who invite, those who make room, those who work to make things better for others.
And church is fabulous when one of its grandmas sends a 17 year-old with jumper cables just when he is needed most!
Quote from writer and cartoonist Allen Saunders borrowed by John Lennon for his song, Lovely Boy, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
I made my plans and they were great plans. The General Assembly for my amazing church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is meeting in Indianapolis this week. The venue is excellent - hotels surround the convention center and you walk across cool glassed-in bridges from hotel to event to mall and into great downtown eating places.
My husband couldn't go. Since I can get lost getting out of the parking lot Emily signed on to go with me. How fun is that?! Emily is younger than my kids and eager to see the greater church in action. Plain and simply we are going to have a blast! We read all the publicity leading up to the event. I will introduce her to my friends manning the Phillips Theological Seminary booth, we will linger over the fair trade booths and I'll try to buy only a few books. The worship, music, preaching and workshops will be sensational. Since I don't want to drag a laptop all over the place I order the printout of the business docket. I watch the webinars and sign-up for the dinners we will attend. This is going to be so good!
We are scheduled to leave my house Saturday at 11:30. Plenty of time to navigate Love Field. We will take Uber from the airport to the Marriott where we are staying. I feel young and cool just thinking about it!
Friday my body starts complaining. By Saturday morning I've got fever, I can't stand up straight and even my hair hurts! Emily zips into action and notifies the airline and hotel. I feel sorry for myself. Emily and I are missing out on everything! And then bad psychology/stupid theology kicks in.........What did I do to deserve this?.........Where did I go wrong? Is God mad at me? I'm just a useless, pitiful human being........sign.........moan. There is nothing like feeling weak, vulnerable, and disappointed to open the door to nonsense.
Well, nonsense be damned. Stuff happens! I didn't make myself sick. God isn't mad at me. This is not the end of hope and joy in my life. Emily got to go to the beach with her family. I will stay home and rest. In a little while I'm going outside to pot some coleus cuttings that are coming along beautifully.
All that enrichment and education I'm missing out on? I'm catching up on my Christian Century reading, reading ahead for the next few sermons, and playing the piano. I'm working on I'll Fly Away on the harmonica (you can almost tell what I'm playing now). And, Lord have mercy on my soul - I'm going to get my mileage and finance stuff up to date!
I pray abounding blessings on all those attending the General Assembly, and on the General Assembly, itself. I pray for my Phillips Seminary Friends and the Oklahoma and Texas pastors I will miss seeing. I pray for the music, the friendships, and all the possibilities for my wonderful Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I pray for safe travel for Emily. And I pray for Rev. Rosemary Redmond, who preached for me on Sunday, and for the lovely folks of my church.
Stuff happens. Plans change, we adapt. But we can still set our face to the future, we can still dream dreams and see visions. And we can live, ever more powerfully, into the Body of Christ right here ad now! Look out, Waxahachie, She Rev is on the mend!
Rev. Marcia Hagee
She graduated from Duke University and the University of Missouri-Columbia studying Psychology and Religion. She earned her M. Div at Phillips Theological Seminary and was ordained by the Oklahoma Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).