At the church that sponsored me for ordination there was a guy on the vestry named John. John was a classic geek. He went to sci-fi conventions with his wife, he had a waist length ponytail and I think he created software or computers. That said, even more than “Deep Space 9” John loved Jesus. That’s why if you had more than three conversations with him there was a strong likelihood you would have heard his Jesus sandwich story, which goes like this:
Back in the day John and Stephanie the seminarian had a lunch ministry going in a park by the church. They had a phone chain (before texting and emails) of church volunteers who made about twenty sandwiches a piece and delivered them to the park at lunch time on Saturdays where anyone who was hungry was invited to take one or two. There were lots of people with nowhere to go who hung out and slept in that park so demand for these sandwiches was high.
One Friday night while John was making his calls to remind people about their sandwich duty he couldn’t reach Frank so he left a message on his answering machine (yes- this was a very long time ago). The next day the park was packed with hungry people and everyone delivered their sandwiches on time but Frank. By the time Stephanie was down to the last ten or so sandwiches John’s saw they were going to run out.
All of the sudden, a car pulls up to the hire hydrant. The driver leans out the window and yells, “Hey! Guy with the pony tail! Are you John?!”
John nods. The guy gets out of the car, opens his trunk and waves John over. When John gets to the car the man says,
“You called me last night and said you needed sandwiches for today but my name isn’t Frank, it’s Bruce, and you didn’t leave your number on my answering machine so I couldn’t call back to ask how many. I brought fifty. Is that enough?”
If you’ve heard me tell this story more than once and are rolling your eyes then you are getting the full, John effect. Also, when John died I inherited it.
At John’s funeral, attended by four priests, several Wiccans, a bunch of Sci-Fi nerds, current and alumni members of his church going back twenty years, I was invited to commune people. No matter their faith or whether or not they had one, every person in that church came to the altar, palms up and out to receive a bit of that love that made John, John.
The church’s Stewardship season begins this Sunday. No question about it, we need people to make a financial commitment to help keep the doors of our seven day a week church open. But when you love there isn’t any charity, there’s just sharing, and when you share Jesus inevitably shows up, feeds you, everyone around you and he keeps mysteriously widening circle of people you think of as your “family”.
If Grace Church Van Vorst has expanded your family, if it is a place that you return to over and over again because it gives itself away to you, please pledge. John promises: you will still have enough and even more than enough.
You can download the 2020 pledge form HERE.
Your sister in Christ,
Rev. Laurie Jean Wurm