It wasn’t God who met me. But it was Jesus. Jesús, to be precise.
He was on a bicycle, riding through the Starbucks parking lot in Downey. I had stopped at the Starbucks to do some final sermon prep, and was taking Tigger out for a quick stroll before heading over to First Presbyterian Church of Downey to preach a sermon I had entitled “Detour.”
We got to chatting, Jesús and I, eager as I am to practice my Spanish. Finally I told him I had to go, I was going to be late for church.
“What church,” he asked. “I’m looking for a church.”
“The Presbyterian Church,” I responded. “It’s on Downey Ave, just a few blocks from here.”
“What is the address?”
“I don’t know. But it is on Downey Ave, just a few blocks from here. You should come. They speak Spanish. The services are at 10AM.” I replied, trying to be friendly, but knowing that I was now a few minutes late for my ‘guest preacher’ meeting before the service started.
“Could you tell me the address?” he asked. Okay Jesus, I was thinking, can’t you just find it on your own? I’m late for church! It was the irony, more than my own sense of generosity or hospitality that forced me to respond, “I will look it up for you.”
So, I went to my iPhone, looked up the address, and proceeded to tell him.
“Could you write it down for me?” Seriously, Jesus, I don’t have time for this! I thought to myself, but again, noting the irony of being too much in a hurry to invite Jesus to church.
I found a piece of paper and wrote down the address.
“Here it is,” I said. “I’m so sorry, but I really have to go–I’m running very late.” I did not mention that I was the preacher for the morning. We said our goodbyes and I was on my way.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” I said to Alfredo, the Associate Pastor who met me as I arrived at the church. “I met Jesus at Starbucks.”