Yes. Not long ago two brothers did hug at Sam’s. Here’s what happened.
My wife and I were in Maryland for the glorious occasion of the birth of our new baby granddaughter. My wife and my daughter were busy with all the maternal details. My son-in-law was simultaneously trying to keep up with his Master’s program at Johns Hopkins University. So it was “in my pay-grade” to run errands and go to various stores for things necessary for the occasion.
One particular shopping trip was for me to go to Sam’s for another pack of diapers, just to make sure the supply was adequate. And I was given quite specific instructions by my loving daughter, “Dad, get only, only Huggies Little Movers Size 1. If they don’t have those, don’t try to figure out a substitute. Only get that brand, that size.”
“Oh, yes, dear daughter,” I said. Well, more or less. She knew and I knew that often in the past I had determined on a shopping trip that a near substitute surely would be O.K., only to be informed upon arrival home that only the prescribed brand and size/quantity was acceptable. Live and learn, indeed.
As I entered the Sam’s near Silver Spring, Maryland, I quickly discovered that not all Sam’s are set up and arranged in the exact same order, so I stumbled around a bit even to find the “diaper aisle.” Once there, it was like looking at a veritable wall of diaper packages. You probably know what an aisle at these large warehouse retailers looks like, 40 feet long and floor-to-a-very-high-ceiling.
When my multi-progressive-lense glasses finally had me almost dizzy from gazing back and forth and up and down, and still not seeing “Huggies Little Movers Size 1,” I stepped back, and just as I did a gentleman in a Sam’s vest walked by. Almost in desperation, I blurted out, “Sir, do you know anything about diapers?”
Now, here’s the important part of this story. Instantly, as I took a much better look at him and saw a face much the same age as mine, I realized the potential confusion of my question. He stopped and very politely said, “Well, my kids are way past diapers, but how can I help you?” I chuckled and he chuckled.
I explained my need for the exact you-know-what, and he tarried and also gazed up and down the large selection, and then confirmed there were none of my exact need. And he confirmed that there were also none in any other part of the store.
I thanked him for helping me look, and I turned and pushed my cart away from where he was standing. As I pushed, I realized that I had not given him my personal “benediction,” which I endeavor to give to everyone I meet or talk with. I hadn’t said, “God bless you!”
So, I turned and said, “Thanks again! God bless you!”
And he smiled and said, as well, “God bless you!”
I said, “God is good!”
He completed, “All the time!”
I turned again to leave, but The Spirit was far too active in that moment, so I pushed my cart back to where he was still standing, I came around from the back of the cart, and I looked him in the eye, and I said, “I bet you’re a man of God, a man of Christ.”
He said, “I certainly am.”
I returned, “Well, so am I, and that makes us brothers in Christ, doesn’t it?”
“It sure does,” he affirmed.
We gripped thumbs and hands and brought each other into a brothers’ hug. And see this, one side of that hug was white and the other side of that hug was black, but it was a hug unified and solidified in Christ, just as Christ intended. Just as Christ makes possible.
We visited for a very few more minutes and gave blessings and affirmations to each other. Then I said, “Please let me take our picture.” He agreed and we smiled at the selfie arm-in-arm.
When I did continue shopping and he continued with his work, the two of us were not the same as we were those few short minutes before. Now, Justin has a brother named Rodney, and Rodney has a brother named Justin. Thank You, Jesus!
One more thing. I need to ask the question, “How did that happen? Two strangers with some visual differences finding each other as brothers right there in Sam’s?”
Here’s the answer. Because The Church did its job! The Church, in the power of Christ and His Holy Spirit, nurtured and developed me, instilling in me the knowledge of Christ’s love and my salvation, and also Christ’s call for me to love all as my brothers and sisters. The Church, starting with my parents and then all my experiences, created in me a spirit that is in unity with all those who call upon The Name of Jesus in faith.
And, The Church did its job with Rodney. His life in The Church, in the power of Christ and His Holy Spirit, whatever that looked like, his pastors, the teaching he received, those all nurtured and developed him, instilling in him the knowledge of Christ’s love and his salvation, and also Christ’s call for him to love all as his brothers and sisters. The Church, my guess is starting with his parents and then all his experiences, created in Rodney a spirit that is in unity with all those who call upon The Name of Jesus in faith.
Here’s the bottom line: Church, do your job! And keep doing your job! It is the only salvation this world has on this side of heaven.
Go in peace. Serve the Lord. And God bless you!
[Kollmeyer, a Fayette County resident for 35 years, is Pastor Emeritus at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville. Follow Pastor Scott Ness and this great church at www.princeofpeacefayette.org. Kollmeyer is also Interim Pastor at Word of God Lutheran Church in Sharpsburg. Find his weekly video recorded sermons at www.woglutheran.org.]