“I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.” -Psalm 40:10 (NRSV)
It was the week after Easter in 2008. The pastors in the Montana Synod of the ELCA were gathering at Chico Hot Springs for a retreat (along with their spouses and a handful of kids), and I was sitting at a table with Jessica Crist (the bishop for Montana Synod), her husband, some synod staff, and my former husband Jon (then an ELCA pastor). I was describing 2J’s, an “interesting” grocery store in Great Falls that is similar to Trader Joe’s, and one of the synod staff commented sarcastically that people can be positively evangelical about their grocery stores but not about Jesus. I pulled myself up to my full 5’1” stature and told him that he would know that I can totally speak the same way about Jesus if he bothered to ask me. (Yes, I’m sure that all of you who know me can picture this vividly.)
While I don’t evangelize people at Haggen on my weekly shopping trip (I’m far too shy!), my weekly grocery shopping trip has been one of those things that have saved me during the pandemic. As much as I love Daniel, I needed a break from him occasionally, and the shopping trips were my break. I would make finding certain items like PPE and flour into a game while navigating supply chain issues, and I found that pacing the aisles at Haggen became relaxing for me. Best of all, I would occasionally run into St. Paul’s folks there, and that would make doing church online somewhat less isolating.
Thank heavens for the ways in which basic survival things can bring us life!
Gracious God, thank you so much for pharmacists, pharmacy techs, cashiers, and all who are essential employees that keep the world going during times when the rest of us have to stay home. Amen.