Last night, I dropped the kids off at VBS but didn't stay for the adult portion because I was committed to attending the summer Bible study at my parish which met at the same time.
Tonight I stayed for the adult section. We crossed the road to the church and met in a Sunday school room directly off the main sanctuary. The room is filled with pews but no tables. The associate pastor distributed a worksheet to us that included several questions about Matthew 22:34-40 and directed us to work in teams. He paired me with the couple at the far end of my pew, a youngish set. Before I slid down, a lady behind me said, "Wouldn't you rather work with us and remain where you are?" and I said, thinking of obedience, that I was told to work with the others.
I introduced myself to them and vice versa. Her name was Maria and it struck me as a pretty name so I said so. His was John. He is, I believe, a corrections officer and looks the part, with a muscular build and serious demeanor. I told them both how I had heard this very Scripture passage at church that morning. What a coincidence. I also had in mind the first reading, from the beginning of the Book of Ruth, just in case there was anything complementary in it for our assignment.
After we answered our questions, we had a few minutes to chat. I complimented the man on his Guadeloupe tattoo. If I had been sitting on the other side of them, I probably wouldn't have seen it because it was inside his left forearm. She asked how long I had been attending the [Independent, Fundamentalist Baptist] church and I said that we came only for VBS. She said she's on the fence about the IFB church because she's Catholic. I said that I am also Catholic. She asked where I live and then she confirmed which parish I attend. That was remarkable to me because nobody outside a very small geographic radius has ever heard of the parish. But she said she has relatives that attend there.
At that point, we have to break off our conversation because everyone else was finished with the assignment. The husband's parting words were that he wanted his wife to attend a Christian church and didn't care which one but that they had visited on Sunday and liked the Baptist service very much.
Of course there were things that I wanted to tell her but I had to be respectful of her husband. It would have been a red flag to him if I had disregarded his authority.
After we reviewed the assignment, another pastor stepped in to preach a bit on Philippians 3:13-14 and he gave us time to find the passage by saying a few things about Hebrews 12:1. He's going for the athletic imagery, you see. Gosh, I ran in college, so I've heard it all, long time before. Besides, he didn't think in terms of track or cross-country but football and baseball! Ugh.
The poor guy next to me, John, spent all this time trying to find Philippians. After much page flipping, he came across it. Meanwhile, my Bible pages were stale, having been open to the verse so long. Then the preacher told us to "turn back" to 1 Corinthians 9:24, those subtle, directional clues for them with ears to hear. John had so much trouble finding Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians that he gave up and tossed his Bible at his wife who wasn't about to try.