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!
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).