Billy, the Pastor, had hit a Grand Slam. Never before in my Catholic upbringing had I EVER heard words like abortion, environmental issues, health care, homosexuality and race discussed during a sermon. Sure the hypocritical Christians all talk about these issues with one another in private but here it was discussed in the open. Billy's message that day was to show the congregation where each candidate stood on each of these issues. It was up to us to decide who we wanted to vote for. He didn't particularly care who we chose, he wanted to show us the importance of KNOWING WHY we voted for who we voted for. Billy is a big proponent of the learning process and understanding. It was clear to me, leaving that first visit that the I wanted to recruit this church into my life.
|Billy and John|
I signed up the recruit (they probably signed me up but isn't that how it really is anyway, the player was recruited the Coach by showing him/her that they are worth believing in.) Having Felipe and Jula attend this church was great. As we left the Sunday service we would process what we had heard in church. We discussed one good point that each of us got out of the message and this lead to other discussions. The irony was today at church, Billy played about twenty minutes of the Toy Story 3 movie. He talked about the good lessons and bad lessons that we saw in the film. And as the Toy Story 3 film told the story about Andy leaving for college, Billy told the story that today, all three of his kids left for college. An empty nest for the first time in 25 years. His oldest one off to Graduate school and the other two off to the same college as freshmen.
We all felt his heart ache as he fought back the tears. We know that feeling from raising our own and also when Jula and Felipe left to return to their countries. Its different when as host families we say goodbye because the probability of seeing them ever after raising them for an entire year is null. We do it because we want to make a difference. We know it creates drama and makes for a great life let alone a great movie. As Billy spoke, I whispered to Steve, "We process his sermons the same way when we leave on Sundays just as he processes the movies with his kids."
The message today was love our Christian Brothers and Sisters. If you hate them you have really committed murder in your mind. It is such a strong word...hate. The bible tells us it is equal to murder. I never knew that. The only point I would have added to Billy's today was that we can hate the actions of our sisters and brothers and still love the person. This story can unfold daily in our lives. It is the right thing to do. No drama, no comedy, no romance, just simple love of Christ displayed toward our other humans. As I drank the soda to wash down the salt from the popcorn, I thought How Great Thou Art to allow us to attend church to hear a message more powerful than any Oscar can award while wearing flip flops and eating popcorn listening to Billy while he was wearing his jeans all for free. I'm humbly blessed. Thank you JC and Billy, the two greatest story tellers of all time.