Sunday, January 30, 2011

A service of preparation

Just back from New Orleans, the ground  covered with snow from the latest storm. I walk down the street, uncertain as to what I might find at the church when I get there. The strikers are out at Saigon Grill chanting “Boycott Saigon Grill” and ‘Don’t eat at a sweat shop.”
When I get there, it doesn’t look so bad. The scaffolding has helped again. And someone has done a decent job with the walk. But there are hard packed patches of ice, flooded cross walks  and I’m concerned about people coming to church tomorrow. So I get the ice breaker, the various shovels and set to work.
Deacon James comes by. Tells me he’d been out earlier and did the first path but had to go in  He’s been dealing  with  some medical issues, had his diagnoses.  Some challenging days ahead. He says, “See you tomorrow” and heads back up the street.
But a few minutes later, he’s back. “Couldn’t leave you alone out here,” he says. So we dig in together. Again, in this Saturday afternoon of lots of people out, I’m still shocked at the number of people who just walk over you and don’t say a word. A few scattered “excuse me’s”  are an improvement. The one or  two thank you’s a blessing. 
In an hour we’ve finished our work. Broken through the ice, scraped it off. I thank James and he heads home.  I scatter salt across the walk to guard against overnight freezing. In our tradition, we used to call services the week before communion a “service of preparation.” Today, James and I had a “service of preparation” for tomorrow. 
Latinos hanging out under the scaffolding, chatting, laughing, waiting for the bus.

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