Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Accidental Pilgrim

.... that's what my sermon title should have been this morning. And I admit, in some ways it turned out to be a shameless excuse to talk about our trip to Paris. I "used" the Isaiah text to talk about the invitations that God extends to us, to come and eat, to see the world in a new way (a place of abundance) to live in the world in a new way (sharing with others and connected to others).

I told a story about seeing the same DK Paris guidebook everywhere we went, only in different languages. And about one time in particular that I saw that guidebook at the table next to ours at a sidewalk cafe. I also recognized the letters on the front cover, and turned to my husband and whispered, "They're from Greece." (I knew that that New Testament Greek study would have more uses!) I didn't think any more about it until we got up to leave. The couple moved their guidebook out of the way so that my husband could get out, and he turned and said to them "Thank you" -- in Greek. (He told me he learned it from a grocery bag.)

That last line got a big laugh because there is a local grocery store here that has the words "Thank you" printed on all of their grocery bags, in many different languages. The closest store to us is managed by our of our congregation's leaders. I was kind of hoping that he would be at church today, but he was working.

Immediately after the service, a church member whispered in my ear, "Guess where I'm going this week!" PARIS. She asked if she could borrow our guidebook. I said, "Oui."

Then I stopped at the grocery store, where I needed to buy lunch ingredients, and I was kind of hoping to run into the manager, for obvious reasons. Often on Sundays, there are many food samples in the store, and today, among other things, there was CAKE. I told the young woman who offered me a small piece of cake that I just couldn't, as I had cheesecake at church in the morning.

"What church do you go to?" she asked.

It's true, we had cheesecake on sticks this morning. A young couple is using our church kitchen to start up a cheesecake business, and made these as a sort of a gift and a promotion for us this morning. A little more upscale than your usual donut holes.

Meanwhile, I didn't find the store manager, but relayed my grocery bag story to the people who were checking and bagging my groceries. (Yes, this store still bags groceries for you.) The bagger helped me carry the groceries to my car, pointed to my collar and asked, "Are you a pastor?" After I answered in the affirmative, she asked what kind of church I was at, and then, more boldly -- just how does a person go about finding a church? I said it would be good to try a few different churches (not neglecting my own, of course), and that she could ask any questions she wanted after she had visited.

I hope you had a blessed, restful, delicious Sunday.


ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

Our store also bags and carries the groceries. You should see how surprised the 651-ers and 612-ers are when they see that! And they don't allow tipping.

What a blessing grocery bagging is when one is shopping with a baby.

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

what a beautifully blessed day you had! it's always enjoyable when God's activity is so apparent to us!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Diane, I love it. You could have called this post "As the Doors Open". What a lovely idea to have "thank you" in different languages on the grocery bags.

mompriest said...

hey, it all sounds very appropriate to me! I bet they loved hearing about your trip and of course all the evangelism that followed...God always finds a way to work through our purposes...

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

This is a lovely post. I love the serendipitous connections of it all.

Barbara B. said...

yes, yes, what ruth said!!

davenu said...

My daughter spent some time in Paris this summer. I wonder if she and her grandmother have that guidebook?

Thanks for sharing these wonderful stories.


Lindy said...

Ah cheescake... the ultimate outreach tool!

I am glad you had such a great day.