Good morning Jesus, I begin my work week by surrendering all my works at the foot of your cross so that your will not mine be done...
Yesterday, I performed a funeral for a friend of mine, Ashley. Ashley is a waitress at the Waffle House (WH). Last Monday her mother Cathie died in a fire that burned her house to the ground. A house she has lived in for the past 44 years. I first encountered Cathie through stories Ashley shared with me as I sat at the WH bar. Through my daily visits month after month, year after year Ashley has shared with me in our conversations her love, concerns and life with her mother.
I got to meet Cathie about a year and a half ago. Cathie’s home was in need of repairs and renovating and Ashley was helping her mother to complete this project. I was able to get a donated stove, dishwasher and other items for the project and delivered them in my truck to Cathie’s home. With my background in construction whileI was there I spent over an hour walking through her home, listening to what needed to be done, and I gave her some tips and advice. Cathie shared stories and the history of her life and home as we walked through its rooms.
Last Tuesday morning (Halloween) I walked into the WH. And as I was sitting at the bar a waitress asked me if I had heard about what happened to Ashley’s mother. I told her I had not. As she was telling me what happened I received a text from Ashley telling me the same thing and asked me if I would perform her mom’s funeral and to please call her. Ashley and her mother do not attend or are connected to a church. And her only contact with the Gospel and grace of Jesus is my visits and sharing and praying with her and over her. I told her it be an honor.
This is the second funeral I have been asked to do by WH staff and regular guests. “Chuck”, the man I wrote about in my earliest post “He’s My F*cking Pastor" was the first. I have also been asked to perform one wedding, and have made hospital visits for waiters/waitresses because of illness and to bless the birth of a children born. My church conference and most do not use funerals and weddings performed as a church metrics of church health. I do not count numbers of waitresses and customers at the bar of the three WH I visit weekly as “seats in the pews” for weekly attendance. And I do not pass a plate or get any financial support for my time spent in ministry to them to claim. However, to me these instances I have been invited to share in the intimate and holy moments of peoples lives just re-enforces to me that besides what it may look like; “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health”, my presence and commitment those at the WH, though lacking the form, is functioning as a “church.”
Performing Cathie’s funeral instilled a new level of trust and intimacy with Ashley, the WH employees and regular customers that attended the funeral. I pray God will use that to allow me to draw them closer to Him and His Son.
My family, I pray this morning, as you begin your week you will pray and reflect on who you are called and sent to serve day in and day out in your week. You were not sent by God to a church. I have been and you you may have been called to help serve and participate in a church, but it is your neighborhood, apartment complex, workplace, school, and other third places you find yourself in to whom you are sent. You are sent into these places where you live your life and spend your time to be to them a tangible example of the kingdom of God in their lives. You are sent to be to them examples of salt and light, justice and mercy, love and compassion, partying and banqueting, laughter and dancing. You are sent to them to be "The Church" with them. If not you, then who? If not now, then when? In Jesus’ name. Please pray the same for me. God bless you my friends!