Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who Needs Jesus?

As we entered Main St. Pizza from the cool rainy parking lot, there was the smell of burning cigarettes mingled with baking pizza. The three TV's displayed Jeopardy as a waitress motioned to us to sit anywhere. On one wall was a picture of a Mediterranean villa, on another a painting depicting Virginia wildlife and near the kitchen entrance was a Thomas Kinkade painting - you know, the one of the glowing house. In the far corner was a couple of older woman chatting and drinking some sort of red wine. Near by was a young couple who appeared to be on a date. At the table nearest the bar two men chugged bottled beer, smoked cigarettes and wolfed down a large pizza.

Our waitress came to take our drink and she spoke with a foreign accent. My 5-year-old responding to the conversation, uttered the Spanish word for hot, "caliente" The waitress laughed and said that she understood. I asked her where she was from. "Russia" she replied. "I speak four more languages," she added.

As we waited for our order, a family came in with three small children in tow. It was obvious that the young boy was in some sort of trouble as the father tried to manage him discreetly with all the tell-tale body language. Had we not been in the car for twelve hours, we might have sought out a nicer environment to have a much needed meal.

My wife described it as a time warp. And I admit, it was a bit strange-- the very bizarre collection of paintings and photos on the walls along with the collection of "normal" folks in a setting that seemed out of the 70's. We couldn't remember the last time we were in a public building where smoking was allowed. We laughed, as the only smoking we see is in the parking at church.

I guess what was interesting to me, was that these were all part of God's beloved creation. It is doubtful that our church would plan a mission trip to the Greek pizza joint just off the interstate highway in rural Virginia. I wondered if I might be there for a reason as I sat eating my cheeseburger sub. The night was uneventful.

I had better luck talking about Jesus at Chic-fil-a's in Pawley's Island, SC. I spoke to the woman at the register while my family used the rest rooms. What it's like to live in the Bible belt I asked? She told me how she was a Pentecostal, but she didn't seem all that excited about it. On the way home, there was the couple we met at breakfast that was from a Baptist church in Maine; way out of the Bible belt. I had to ask them about that as they seemed a little uncomfortable talking about their religion.

As I sit and ponder the people that I met along the way from Boston to Myrtle Beach and back, I am a bit confused. I saw people that are living their lives and not thinking about eternity; some are even Christians. I am not certain why, except to say that there was the evidence of religion, but the evidence of Jesus the living God seemed faint. I guess I feel like that Thomas Kinkade paining-- the only evidence of a spiritual realm out of place in the world where folks ignore the depth of their hearts.

I think, I have more thinking to to do.

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