Pulpit Reflections

By Rev. Rick Pittenger

First United Methodist Church, Vermillion

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” I Corinthians 13:12 The Message

“That Grumpy Old Guy at the Counter”

School will be out later this week. Back when my kids were in school I’d take them each out of school once a month for lunch with their dad. Kind of a one-on-one bonding time. They still remember, too!

Today, I’m feeling kind of melancholy with all the graduation parties I’ve seen setting up and taken down around town last weekend. This coming weekend is Memorial Day, again a time to be with family and friends and “remember” those who have gone before with supreme sacrifices of love for country.

I remember as if it were yesterday. We drove to a fast food restaurant that day. It was lunch hour and life was at a hectic pace; workers with limited lunch hours, people rushing and grabbing a quick bite to get down the road. From the start, things didn’t look good. First, the worker behind the counter was handing a cup to a patron adding, “Sorry, I forgot your drink!” Then, another came up with an order for another patron stating, “Sorry about the wait!” Still, before we were able to put our order in a man in his mid-60s or so approached the counter. “Uh, miss, could I speak to your manager!”

“Just a minute sir, she’s really busy!”

“I’ll wait,” he said.

Another man walked by him with his tray and said to the man, “Good luck!” He waited patiently. We put in our order. I wanted to see what he was going to say. We received our meal in short order and were forced to go find a seat as it would have looked “nosey” to stand around waiting, I mean, I could only fill my pop so many times before suspicion gave me away.

Jesus was passing by, he saw a man who was sightless from birth. When the eyes of Christ saw his blindness, Jesus had compassion on him.

Many of Christ’s healings began with Jesus simply seeing the need with the compassionate eyes of Christ. Jesus often responded without even being asked, simply because the love in the eyes of Christ prompted him to act.

When the widow of Nain was burying her only son, Jesus saw her and had compassion on her and raised her son to life. When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying sick with a fever and he healed her.

Yes, the eyes of Christ often saw the malady and responded with sympathy, tenderness, and understanding by initiating the forgiveness of sins and healing of the affliction. The eyes of Christ saw much misery and he responded with concern, mercy and pity.

When he saw the crowds Jesus said, “I have compassion for them, for they are harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.”

Back to my friend at Arby’s on a Sunday afternoon. I sat facing him from the other side of the restaurant. Wondering just what he was going to chew out the manager for. “She’ll be right here!” I heard the worker at the counter say. It must have taken five minutes. Finally the manager came and I overheard just what a nearby worker said, “Can we have that in writing?” I still didn’t get it! I saw the man leave the restaurant doors. He opened them patiently for his wife. She was using a walker. Out to their car they went. “Lord, I wish I knew what he said!” I said to myself. I was almost out of pop and I got up from my table, and sure enough just then, he returned to the door of the restaurant, his wife headed to the restroom.

I said, “Sir? You got me curious. What did you say to the manager?” I asked.

“Oh,” he said, “I just told her how much I appreciated them working so that my wife and I could enjoy our meal. I guess I chose a bad time to tell her. It’s so easy for people to take the service industry for granted, and I wanted her to know we appreciated it.”

I saw a glimpse of the Savior at a fast food restaurant. I hope you see as he saw, too!

You who have sorrow now, I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your jor from you!”

As you travel the highways and byways of summer days, please take the time to thank those who are over stressed and under paid along your journey. A little kindness can work wonders to bring hope to a hurting world. If Sunday finds you in church; all the better!

Go in peace.

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