Yesterday to wrap up a rather long, hard week we decided to treat ourselves to lunch out. Actually we didn't need to treat ourselves as our wonderful choir did so by virtue of the gift card they gave us for Christmas. So after church Phillip, Caitlin, Evan and I went here. There are several locations in Chicagoland; we went to the one in our neighborhood.
During lunch (which was wonderful) we struck up a conversation with out waiter, a charming young man in his twenties. As we talked, he volunteered that after graduating from high school he had left home for college but had a little trouble settling into a good routine. In his words, when he got out on his own he found himself rebelling somewhat against his "strict, conservative, Lutheran upbringing." As he shook his head with sincere regret we tried not to spew our water all over the table.
We told our new friend that we know all about strict, conservative, Lutheran upbringings because that's pretty much what we do, and we shared that we just happen to attend a strict, conservative, Lutheran church where my husband is Cantor. Imagine our surprise when he informed us that he graduated from our church's day school about 13 years ago. We just missed him by a year. We moved to this area 12 years ago.
Further conversation revealed that our waiter did not attend our church when he was younger but instead, along with his parents, attended a sister church in the area that is known for a more pop-oriented style of worship. His parents have since moved away and he is living on his own, working as a waiter, and trying to finish college. Of course we invited him to church. He asked for worship times (he needs to attend early so that he can get to the restaurant for his Sunday shift) and then wanted to know if the early service had traditional worship. We told him all our services have traditional worship and he smiled: "Good. I always liked that best."
As the meal progressed we continued to enjoy getting to know this interesting and intelligent young man. Before we left he made a point of double-checking the worship time and wrote it down, along with the website address of one of our pastors. As I consider the events that led to our ending up in that restaurant with that waiter on that day, I smile again in wonder at the perfect way that our Lord works, turning the seemingly random and chaotic pieces of our lives into a picture that not only makes sense but that has surpassing order and beauty. Please pray for a young man named Josh. We are hoping to see him again very soon.