Saturday, February 13, 2016

Quickies: Breaking The Rules

     I wasn’t looking for a feel-good item, but I’m very glad to have found this one:

     Coffee is not exactly Thomas Rusert’s cup of tea.

     Nevertheless, every Thursday morning Pastor Thomas indulges himself in a steaming cup of java at local coffee houses.

     “I’m a tea drinker all the other days of the week,” said Thomas, the associate pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. “I’m a weirdly patterned person.”

     So what is this tea-drinking pastor doing at those coffee houses? Exactly what a pastor should be doing:

     It does seem a bit unusual – akin to a vegetarian ordering tofu at a barbecue joint. But it turns the pastor’s weekly coffee klatch is all about prayer. Yes, prayer.

     Every Thursday morning, Pastor Thomas puts on a clergy collar and sets up shop in a local coffee house. He sets out a little sign that reads, “Free Prayer,” and then waits to see who God sends his way.

     “I’m humbled all the time by the way that the Spirit works,” the pastor told me. “God is working to give people the courage to say, ‘All right – I’m going to take this pastor up on this offer.’”

     And they have – by the hundreds.

     “Admirable” isn’t a strong enough word. “Innovative,” yes – and unfortunately, likely to draw groundless criticism (and backbiting) from other Christian pastors. Clerics should stay in their parishes, where they belong! will be the refrain. I could only wish that Catholic priests might be inspired to emulate this Lutheran minister. Unfortunately yet again, priests of my denomination tend to be more concerned with parish finances and running programs only tenuously connected to the faith than they are with finding and reaching out to souls in need.

     I can’t help but draw a somewhat quirky parallel. It’s a matter of apocryphal lore that a reporter once asked bandit Willie Sutton why he robbed banks. Sutton’s supposed reply (which he later denied) became a classic: “Because that’s where the money is.” Apocryphal or not, that bit of homely good sense has become a popular marketing aphorism: “Go where the money is.” Pastor Thomas has clearly decided to “go where the souls are” – and he’s finding them in impressive numbers.

     Smile along with me, Gentle Reader. Innovations in Christian outreach are few and far between. This one is both noteworthy and entirely wholesome. Clerics nationwide, take note!


Tim Turner said...

Synchronicity? 20 minutes after I read this, the NPR show, "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" had a story about a Catholic diocese in England that offers mobile confessions in a bus that travels around with a priest.

They made mild fun of the idea.

Francis W. Porretto said...

With one breath, with one flow
You will know
A sleep trance, a dream dance,
A shared romance,

(Gordon Sumner, a.k.a. "Sting") said...

Great story Fran! Thanks! Really does stir the imagination. Jesus, friend of sinners.

Blessings, Bob