After having to part ways with a church I have loved so many people in (and been loved in return) for the past two years, I spent this Sunday morning sitting in Metropolis, the coffee shop next door to my apartment. There I sat, 9:32 AM, sipping an americano and with much failure attempting the Sunday crossword. After getting about four words, two of them undoubtedly wrong, I gave up and started to write.
What I said was Metropolis, where people gather every morning, afternoon and evening and order their coffees, muffins and pies, sitting alone or together, conversing or in thought, is essentially church. People from the neighborhood gathering for a common purpose - good coffee, atmosphere and community. OK, let me revise. Metropolis is like church, but with good coffee.
Everyone in that shop believes in something about something or Someone. If I were to gather up everyone in the cafe and ask them their thoughts on faith, it probably wouldn't be so different than an average church service, if you were to do the same. The spectrum, whatever creed is being chanted, song being sang, word being preached, tongue being prayed in, incense being burned, knees being bowed... on what people actually think, believe, and put their faith in is deep and it is wide.
I'm not saying there isn't something holy and beautiful about the body of Christ. There is. And this does happen on Sunday morning. But it also happens everywhere else, all the time. God is everywhere. Christ is in us. It's happening in our living rooms, and on our balconies, and in our restaurants, and at the bar stools and on the beach, in the woods, at the desk, in deserts, jungles, shacks, huts, mansions and caves. Do people live in caves still? I think I have been watching too much LOST. God is in LOST too.
I know I have said this before. I think I have said it about Metropolis. Place must have some holy vibe or something. I feel the same way about a dive bar named Ollie's in Uptown. I love that place and want to get people together there, just to talk and drink.
This morning I wrote and prayed and told God that I was taking a little break from church, but, don't worry, I wouldn't be gone for long. I am not strong enough, nor good enough, nor foolish enough to not. Then I said, "Hey, God, (I was joking) I'm sure I'll end up going to the next church someone invites me to visit." I was joking because no one ever invites me to church. I would also have to tell them I am not going to church to be invited. I would also have to talk to people.
My friend and I tried to go to a cafe on a beautiful little spot on the beach just steps from my house tonight. It was closed early, impending rain. We walked instead to get ice cream at a local spot, and then I led us to McDonalds for french fries. Not exactly the idyllic location we were hoping for, but you can never go wrong with a large fry. Sitting and talking for an hour or so about boys, church, power, leadership, fear, false humility, blah, blah, blah, a young tattooed guy leaned over and handed us a bulletin folded in half. It was from the church he had gone to in the neighborhood over this morning. It is a church I have been told I would like.
He didn't say anything, except that he went there this morning and he wanted to join, and slid back into the corner of his booth. Then a few minutes later he slid back over and started telling us his story. It was long and it was crazy, to be sure. If he liked that church so much, being who he was, I know I'd like it to, just because they let him in and liked him, too.
It only took a few hours for a church bulletin to be handed to me by a perfect stranger; a homeless, confused, wonderful stranger. Because we went to McDonalds. Because the Waterfront was closed. Because of rain that didn't fall. Because we can never escape that God is everywhere. In McDonalds, in churches, in coffee shops. He is with us, wherever we are. Always.