I suppose if I had a ‘knock knock’ joke, it would start with, ‘So I struck up a conversation with a stranger . . .’And so I did. Right after I jumped into the only open seat in the restaurant, which was at the bar, and ordered a cobb salad before I flew home from Salt Lake City. Rough week, all in all.
‘Heading home?’ I think he asked me.
‘Why, yes … and you?’ His belongings catching my eye, I said, ‘been playing music?’ ‘Well sorta’, yes …’
I took a closer look at his mandolin case between our two seats. It wasn’t long until we were engaged in conversation, and I found out that he had made his life as a brainiac scientific medical guy, training people on machines I couldn’t even begin to describe. But now, he is mostly retired.
‘Born in Brooklyn, live in New Mexico…’
‘I love Brooklyn,’ I quickly supplied, ‘go there a couple times a year.’
‘Whatever for?’ he inquired. ‘Quite fond of the Brooklyn Tabernacle… you know, there on Fulton Plaza – have you heard of it?’
‘Yes, but what would take you all the way there?’
‘Best pastor, best teaching in the entire world—love of God, love of people,’ I responded. 'It is the best of people, the best of the church.'
He looked totally confused.
‘Well, to start, I am a pastor …’ [wait…did he just lean away from me?]
‘In short order, I asked my standard let’s get to it question…. ‘so, born in Brooklyn – ‘you a man of faith?’
‘Oh yeah, altar boy many, many years, Seton Hall prep school. Then for many years, even kept the gardens around my Jesuit church, though everyone seemed to complain that whatever I did wasn’t quite to their liking. Since then, even had my pastor living with me for several years.’
‘From your Catholic church, you mean?’
‘Yes, of course.’
‘Got it, but you didn’t really answer my question—are you a man of faith?’
‘Well yeah, I definitely believe in something; there is something out there.’
‘Can I just run that by you once – all these years in the Catholic church – even had your pastor living with you and you ‘believe in something’? Not someone, but just something?’
‘Yeah, well I just don’t think I need to go to church, that’s all…I even tell my pastor that. I believe I can have church anywhere.’
‘Granted,’ I said, ’Oh, by the way – my name is Christine and welcome to church, where we can be anywhere, including an airport—maybe especially an airport—and talk about God! What’s your name?’
‘Okay, so Kevin, that doesn’t answer the question. See, I don’t believe you have to go to church either, but after all those years in church, don’t you believe in Someone?’
Then I gave him a little, meaning I told him a little of what I believe, have experienced.
‘I have found that the God of the Bible – Jesus Christ, in fact – can be backed up by history and archaeology. It is not just religion--theory or rules or anything else; it is real.’ I told him what I had seen with my own eyes: Magdala, home of Mary Magdalene, unearthed on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee in 2008, backing up the Gospels’ claims that Jesus Christ had indeed taught in the synagogue in that area. So, what? Prior to 2008, there had been no evidence of Jesus being in a synagogue in that area. [I mean, seriously, this is radical stuff!]. Talking science, talking facts that back up the scripture seemed to impact my new friend, Kevin.
‘DON’T YOU SEE? This is real; it is legitimate, and it is current. The truths of what you’re loosely referring to as Someone can be backed up TODAY.’ I told him about the first time I was in the town of Migdal in February, 2018, when Magdala, the synagogue site was still a live, unprotected dig, and one of my fellow travelers reached over and grabbed a potsherd and put it in his pocket. I mean, it was crazy! I would not trade that experience for anything! I've been back twice since and though it is a little more protected, it is still a live dig.
Bringing it back to where we were, I asked:
‘So, you play music?’
‘Yes, I’m pretty much retired from the rest.’
‘And you’re coming from…?”
‘Park City where I met some friends to play.’
I dug a little more and found out that I was talking to the ‘leader of the band’ (and I wistfully thought of Dan Fogelberg, God rest his soul). He pulled up pictures of his band mates and suddenly it occurred to me – ‘so do you record? Do you have music out there?’ Turns out he certainly does – the Zen Lunatics.
We continued our conversation and when asking him a little more of his thoughts about God, I remarked, ‘ah, come on – you can answer me… we’re in an airport; we’ll never see each other again! So, let’s have church!’
Here’s the thing, Friends: God did not bring us into his family so that we could sail alone off into the wild blue yonder; nope, he saved us so that we could share him with others. That is precisely why we are here -- to share the hope, the love, and eternal life found in Jesus Christ alone. It is why Jesus said, ‘Be my witnesses’in Acts 1.8 – tell others the truth of what you have experienced in me. Truly, it is our primary purpose for living!
Let's live the adventure . . . let's step into our purpose!
p.s. Hi, Kevin!!