Dinner With Strangers

My wife and I had a late work day last week, so I decided to swing by a drive-thru and grab a sandwich for dinner.  In front of me was a car with roughly 20 bumper stickers on the back.  Some of the stickers didn’t make sense to me, but most of them were related to MMO video games that I am familiar with. The young man in the car was a little unkempt and I imagined he probably spent a good amount of time behind the computer with headphones on. Admittedly my mind went to gamer stereotypes, which are mostly untrue, but still embedded in pop culture.

Drive_Thru

When it was my turn to pay for my order, the woman at the window said, “The driver in front of you paid for your meal. Have a great day.”  She handed me the receipt and something that looked like a coupon.  Distracted by the driver’s kindness, I paid no attention to it and put it on the seat next to me.

I was thankful he pulled to the side so I could wave to him, but then the young man stepped out of his car, came to my window and said while pointing at the coupon, “God bless you, sir, did you get our invitation?” I picked it up and saw that it was an invitation to his church.  I replied, “Thank you for inviting me and thank you for dinner!”

This was heartening to me.  It was marketing of course, brilliant marketing in fact. But this young man, who I had pegged (wrongly) to be one type, believed in his church and faith so much that he was willing to buy a stranger dinner and invite him to the place that gives him hope. I have no idea what fruit in terms of visitors such a campaign will have – and of course, I won’t attend because I have a church that I love and that gives me hope.

Do you feel the same? Maybe we should try it. You never know what might happen when you buy a stranger dinner.*

*see Luke 24

Believing the Unbelievable

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 2nd Sunday of Easter / Divine Mercy Sunday 2017

Caravaggio_-_The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

Due to the constant unchecked flow of data and information through the Internet, it can be hard to know when a story is real news or rubbish. It never ceases to amaze me when someone I know has bought into some crazy fake news story. Sometimes the story is just so unbelievable: celebrities who gained 200 pounds in a month, women having babies who were never pregnant, or people actually being seen who are dead! Like Elvis!

The apostle Thomas found the news that Jesus was alive just too far-fetched to believe. But he didn’t first hear the news on the Internet or read it standing in the grocery store checkout line. His friends told him. His fellow apostles told him they had actually seen the Lord with their own eyes. Their testimony was not enough. He needed proof.

The Resurrection of Jesus gives us not only hope, but also a reason to be His disciples. We have not seen with our own eyes, but like Thomas, we have a community, the Church, that has relayed the truth to us. This same Jesus now calls us to go forth to spread the Gospel. More unbelievable than that, we have through the gifts we have been given, a chance to change and even save lives. The day may come that you, moved by this news of the Risen Lord, will be an agent of His love to the point where someone will tell the tale that you, a follower of Jesus, actually helped to change his or her life. Pretty unbelievable, right?