Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Series of Interruptions

Earlier today, my colleagues and I were in a staff meeting when we heard a door open. As a downtown church, we try to make sure we are always fully aware of who is in the church. Since we are in the heart of Washington, we do not normally keep our doors unlocked but rather have people ring a doorbell whenever they are at the door.

After hearing the door open, my colleague, Chris, went into the lobby and found an older woman sitting there. She was overwhelmed and frustrated, having just realized that her cab dropped her off at 900 Massachusetts Ave. NW instead of 914 Massachusetts Ave. NE. She had paid her money and did not have enough money to get to the other side of town where she was supposed to be at a meeting.
I peaked out into the lobby, trying to discern what to do. I motioned to Chris, asking if he needed my help. My colleague, Carol, then went and started to pat the woman on the shoulder. The woman soon burst into tears, telling us more about what had happened and how she had just lost her nephew. Carol rubbed her arm up and down, offering her comfort. Chris got out his cell phone and called the cab company, asking that they come and rectify the situation. I stood and watched it, not knowing what to do.
Chris and Carol seized the opportunity to be like Christ. I froze in my tracks.
My colleagues offered extraordinary grace and assistance. I asked the woman how she got in.
When the staff meeting resumed, I was wondering who left the door open while my colleague said, "Thank God is was opened because no telling what would have happened to her."
My colleagues are motivating me to be a better disciple - a better participant in the Kingdom of God.
I have commended Carol twice just this week for how she has the uncanny ability to stop everything when someone wants a tour of the church. She rarely seems annoyed when someone stops and knocks on the door of the church - for a tour, financial help, or something else. In the meantime, I almost always see these people as interruptions - distractions - something that takes away from my job instead of something that is part of my job - part of my call, for God's sake!
Carol told me yesterday about a sign she used to hang on her desk at the company where she worked. It said, "I was always bothered by interruptions until I realized interruptions are my work."
I was always bothered by interruptions until I realized interruptions are my work.
Ministry is a series of interruptions. Ministry is a response to a God who loves to interrupt - a God who interrupted me when I thought I was on my way to law school - a God who interrupted me when I was loving my role as an associate pastor - a God who interrupted me when I was extraordinarily successful as a director of admissions - a God who, after all of these interruptions, led me to Mount Vernon Place where I have what I consider to be the best job ever. And this job is a job where I am called to respond to interruptions - where I am to pray that God will interrupt me, pulling me away from what is occupying my time and attention so that I might be used by God.
My work is a series of interruptions. My task now is to continue to take a few cues from my colleagues. Thank you, Chris and Carol, for your example.
God, help me to do better next time.

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