Almighty and most merciful God, You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to seek and to save the lost. Graciously open our ears and our hearts to hear His call and to follow Him by faith that we may feast with Him forever in His kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
I had spent the whole day with Lutheran theologians at a conference held on a university campus. We had spoken about good things. I had reconnected with old friends and colleagues. It was good to be there, but honestly, after a whole day of it, I needed some space away from Lutherans and their problems. But there was this dinner planned, and we were expected to be there. It was a warm evening and the venue where we gathered had a large patio area. I found a comfortable chair outside and watched the setting sun. It was a moment of solitude, and I was glad of it. Until in a moment it wasn’t a moment of solitude.
A large young man sat next me. I had never seen him before. He wasn’t part of our group. He was another person who had come to eat at the same restaurant. He wanted to talk and after exchanging a few pleasantries it came out that I was a pastor. It was as if a floodgate opened at that point. In a few moments were deep into a conversation about him, his life, and God. Afterwards, he thanked me and said he had no plan to do something like this when he had come to meet some friends here. He did not know why he came early that evening or what had prompted him to sit by me and just start talking. But he was very glad that he did.
I felt then and now that it was one of those strange God moments. A time when Jesus rather takes over and gets a little more directive in a person’s life. I think Jesus saw this man’s pain and put me there because Jesus seeks and saves the lost people. Of course, the alternative view is that I was the lost person who needed someone to rescue me from my self-indulgent funk. Perhaps it was a little bit of both. I entered that time of fellowship with my colleagues much better than I ever imagined possible.
Open our ears and our hearts, O Lord, to hear Your call and follow You to heaven’s feast.