Fry on Friday is supposed to be about how I experience God in my own life. Didn’t happen this week. Instead, I stood just off-stage and watched God in other’s lives.
Third day of Vacation Bible School. Noonish. Parents from the community arrive to pick up their children. (About half of our participants were non-church-members from the neighborhoods around us. This means our VBS reflects the cultural and religious diversity of our neighbors—“Red and yellow, black and white…” Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, “None”.) Mom and Dad spot their pre-school son across the room and go to him. “Come on, Big Guy,” smiles Dad. “Let’s go home.” The child’s face twists into abject sorrow. “NO-O-O-O!” he wails.
It’s been a long morning and it’s time for lunch and he’s got to be tired. I get that. But something is happening that makes him want to stay. He’s had fun. He’s made new friends. He feels safe and cared for by adults who were strangers at the beginning of the week. He didn’t get saved; VBS conversions last week—zero. But if a young Buddhist/Muslim/None child grows up remembering that this Christian church is a safe place where he’s welcomed, God has had a good week.
Sunday morning I’m sitting in the back row of an intergenerational Sunday School class. We’re being told the story of the 30+ Burmese refugees whom we’ve sponsored as they’ve moved to the U.S. We’re also celebrating the first of them becoming an American citizen. One of the refugees, a six-year-old girl, colors intently, pouring 100% of her artistic talent into choosing crayons, applying the pigment, appraising her progress. It’s a demanding task, and when it’s complete, she’s weary. She puts the paper aside, looks up, and climbs into the lap of the woman sitting next to her.
This woman with the available lap, along with her two daughters, spends each Saturday morning reading to the child and her siblings. She’s lost track of the number of hours she’s spent with this little girl over the past year. This small act of climbing into a lap is the result—so natural and so absent of deliberation that neither adult nor child gave it any thought. I, however, saw the heavens open up and angels ascending and descending as the seraphim sang, “Holy, holy, holy!”
Maybe God didn’t touch my life this past week. But God put me in the right places at the right times so I could see it happen. Good enough.
Dr. Dave Fry is the senior and founding pastor of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Duluth, Georgia, which was started in 1985. Send comments to “Fry on Friday” at firstname.lastname@example.org.