"Pastor! Pastor! Pastor!" I turned, greeted by an unfamiliar face amidst my grocery-laden cart and three eager children, ready to go home. The woman introduced herself, expressing apologies for the interruption. She confessed to being amazed at recognizing me in person, having been an online worshipper at St. Luke's, who had never graced our physical doors. Her journey with us began during the pandemic, prompted by a friend's recommendation. Though raised Catholic, her husband held no religious affiliations. However, an incident prompted her to share her experience.
Initially, she streamed our service on her TV during morning chores, volume turned up to overcome the noise of dishes and the vacuum. Her husband's request week after week to lower the volume ceased one day. He surprised her by asking her to actually turn it up. Though she couldn't pinpoint the change, something had stirred within him. This skeptic, who once deemed church a waste of time, now was engaging in the songs, messages, and listening to the announcements about how our church makes a difference and the ways people can serve. He became interested in what the church would do next. Now, he had questions. He started commenting on the service and giving his commentary on the messages. "It was an absolute miracle," she beamed as she recounted this transformation. I could see the excitement on her face. I was so glad she stopped me just to share her story.
Encounters like these are becoming frequent as our online community thrives. These stories echo from other cities, from fellow pastors who tune in before their own services. I even hear these stories from people with busy schedules that live right in our city. This, I believe, is the ministry envisioned by Jesus' call to "go ye therefore." It resonates with Paul's words, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow." Beyond our sight lies the divine mystery and beauty of faith, shaping lives through a transformative gospel. It's why we speak to those in the room and the thousands of people that join us online every Sunday. Because your story matters.
So, if you happen to see me at Kroger, don't hesitate to say hello!"
Rev. Dr. Jevon Caldwell-Gross