Last Friday morning, I stopped on my way to work at a local gas station that had a convenience store, a vegetable market, a breakfast and lunch counter, and a stage of on-going human drama. Of course, I arrived when there was a long line already formed for everything from unleaded gas to lottery tickets. I poured myself a cup of coffee and picked up some other items and placed them on a small table toward the back of the convenience store because I realized that I had left my wallet in the car. And as I returned, I witnessed a man of about twenty-five years of age stumble by the table, sit down and literally spill over the coffee onto the fruit and the newspaper which I was about to purchase.
“Breathe, breathe…” I continued to think to myself. I began to walk over to the table and once again, “breathe again, it’s the beginning of your day, please God help me right now…” Slowing down, I was glad the hot coffee had not spilled over his clothes and with no one else was around, I guess I could’ve just left everything as it was, but that’s really not my way of doing things. I saw a mop in the nearby closet and just accepted the fact that this nice, freshly ironed and dry cleaned yellow shirt of mine would be less than crisp and ready for my desk work. When I turned around, I was so thankful for God’s grace and mercy. That young man was blind.
As I neared the table with the mop, I began to say as gently and as slowly as I could, “I’m sorry about all this. It’s my coffee. Don’t worry, I’ll clean it up. No worries.” He tried to apologize as well and before you know it, it was all better and all cleaned. I suggested that we thank God that no one was burned or hurt and that we were both able to walk and still make this day good no matter what. “Jesus defeated death,” I said, “and he can surely take care of little spilled coffee.” One of the attendants, who apparently had been up all night on the graveyard shift, suddenly appeared and barked at both of us, “who’s going to pay for the coffee and all this other stuff?” I looked up and surveyed the man who was easily half a foot taller than me and who obviously played football in high school, and I said “I guess I will, sir.”
“No you won’t!” came a fierce response from the refrigerated coolers around the corner. It came from an older woman, dressed for work, and apparently for action, who continued, “I saw the whole thing. Get away from there! I’ll take care of it!” And with that, she not only paid for my items but yet another set for me and for my blind friend and a coffee for herself and all three of sat for about 10 minutes just talking about nothing. It was later that I realized the deep meaning of two powerful passages from today’s Scriptures. “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth,” and “Here am I, Lord, I come to do your will.”
By now, most veritable accounts, 99% of the Christmas decorations have been removed or at least unplugged and loyally still in place for the day after Thanksgiving. We can safely say that we are ready to face the open waters of ordinary time and put in place everything we have learned through Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. Our message is simple and beautiful: Amen, amen. Let God teach you today. Your next lesson begins before you know it. “The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. To those who accepted him, he gave power to become children of God.”