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My friend Jesus

August 8, 2010

There is an older gentleman who sits on the left side of the church, second pew during the more contemporary service at the church. I’ve been watching him. He softly claps during hymns and praise songs played with guitars and drums. I’ve moved a couple of pews up to sit on the same row.  I’m fascinated by this man. Admittedly, he reminds me of my grandfather if for no other reason than he’s old. And I like to think my grandfather would be right up there clapping along, too.

I am a little shy at the end of the service when we hold hands and sing. Today, I was determined to hold this man’s hand since I’ve not done so before. When hands were reached for mine, I made my way over to the man and grabbed his while the people behind me adjusted to include mine. His hand was soft in mine with a little pressure. I don’t know if he was surprised, he just kept singing. I couldn’t sing, I was too busy trying not to cry. The emotions of missing my own grandfather, watching this man enjoy “loud music” and now our palms pressed firmly together was a bit overwhelming. It’s been a long time since I’ve touched an older person (or any person other than my family). I wondered when this man had last been touched and how my hand felt in his. I tried to clear the tears before the song was over when I knew I would have to interact face to face with him. Thankfully, we sang the verse twice.

The song ended and I waited. He turned to me and I began to take my hand away when he asked if he could hold it a bit longer.  “Of course” I said with a smile willing those tears not to come. He held it for a second longer then released. I went and grabbed my keys not knowing what to do next. I turned back towards him to watch. He stood at the end of the pew listening to the men play their guitars and drums. There are a lot of musicians in our community.

Me: Are you a musician?

Man: No, but those guys really know how to play. I nodded in agreement.

Man: They’re not why I come. I come to worship my friend Jesus.  I come because I know my friend Jesus is here.

That’s what the man said.

So many things went through my mind, but I didn’t know what to say.

Man: I know when I come here Jesus is here.

Me: That’s a great reason to come.

Pathetic response, but I was seriously at a loss for what this man said, how I felt about it, what it meant and the awesomeness of the implication. This man comes to church with the expectation of being with his friend Jesus. He comes with true expectation and not the expectation of the music being too loud, the liturgist reading too fast or the preacher being long-winded. He comes to worship. Lots for me to think about.

If I had been wearing socks they would have been blessed right off.

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