Just after my friend arrived we got in my car to go pick up another friend for an adventure. This other friend is a mutual biking buddy and so when we got to his house, I suggested the second friend show our Nashville buddy his new bike. Everyone agreed it was a good idea and so the guy punches the code into his keyless entry and... his garage door opener breaks. The door is stuck just low enough that my friend can’t get his SUV out, but high enough that if we pushed it up a little we can get the Camry out, so that they would have one car anyway.
Then the three of us got into my car and set out on our adventure. We arrive at our destination and one of the first guys we talk with is another biking buddy. (I make a lot of friends biking.) And when I tell him about the garage doors he tells me that…. Yes his garage door opener had broken that very morning and that he had replaced it…And… that he also had to go to check on his brother’s (Yes, the brother also bikes.) garage door because a neighbor had called and said it had been open for most of the week the brother was away on vacation.
You can’t make this stuff up!
I’ve been talking about this garage door pandemic with others searching for explanations. One is that at this time of year, with the weather changing a bit dramatically, motors and engines and the like act up. True enough, but come on, four garage doors in a row like that. What is that! Another said, “Conspiracy!” Pastor friends have reminded me of the technical phrase we used in seminary for this… which is, “That is some WEIRD Stuff.”
I’ve decided that this experience is just a very odd set of coincidences lining up, a couple of connections of my life (people who own garage doors with openers and guys who ride bikes) intersecting. This has me thinking of some other connections that often intersect both by coincidence and intentionally.
Like the other day, when I was just doing what I’ve done every Monday of my married life which is… grocery shopping. On our day off Katie makes the list and I run the errands and so I was at Cub. While deciding on the “supper meats” (that’s what’s on the list folks, I get to choose) I bumped into someone from church I had not seen in a while who recently experienced a job change. We chatted for a while about how the pork chops looked and then about how she was handling the transition.
Later, I was over by the crackers and cookies when someone else from church was standing with their backs against the peanuts trying, it seemed to me, to decide what kind of cookies to buy. I spotted the look and said, “I think one of each.” The guy patted his stomach and said, “I wish I could,” and then we talked about his mom who had recently undergone a surgery.
All this does not even consider chance coffee shop encounters. You never know who you’re going to run into when they may need you or you them. To tell you the truth I talk to a lot of people who come to church not only for worship, but to also put themselves in a place they can sort of run into other people, people they seem to have something in common, people they sort of know… on purpose. This place is called the few minutes before and after church and fellowship time.
For those of us who have been around for a while all that seems like old hat, it’s a coincidence that we happen to see each other. But I know that to some, who are new to our community, for whom it is an intentional decision to come to Fellowship time. They come to bump into someone that they share a little something in common like; wanting to have God in their life, or work together in a community garden, or having kids the same age and believe that being at EPUMC is a good idea or a place where diversity is celebrated.
I’m hoping that rather than wait around or depending on coincidences before or after church or at fellowship time some of us can reach out to the newer folks among us who are intentionally counting on us to find out what we have in common. Take it from me reaching out to others is a great adventure.