A plea in the church newsletter asked for volunteers for the Outreach Center where the homeless receive counseling and care. Not just any volunteers were called for; the request said new volunteers, and “new” was italicized. “What does that mean?” I wondered. New to the faith? New to the Outreach Center? I had to know, so I called to ask “what do you mean by new?” but instead said, “what time do you need me?”
I arrived the next day and the director said, “Can you make coffee? “Coffee? Oh yeah. I can make coffee.”
“Great,” she said, and she pointed to the machine, and hurried around the corner.
I expected a Mr. Coffee, but instead faced an enormous Bunn-o-Matic with three burners and no instructions. I started slinging grounds and water, and in nothing flat had ten cups of coffee brewing onto the floor. Apparently there is no “on” switch; you either is or you ain’t making coffee, and if you is, get that pot in place before you fill the tank with water. I was Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory, and of course the director returned and said, “Oh dear!”
“Not to worry!” I yelped as I filled my shoes with coffee, “I’ve got everything under control!” And soon enough I had the floor clean and three full pots burbling on the burners.
People came and went, filled with the hope engendered by a new job, a handful of bus tokens, a driver’s license, bags of groceries and the simple hospitality of a place to sit and a cup to sip.
Then Jesus arrived as a two-year old girl. Her parents pushed a stroller laden with mounds of little girl stuff, indicating there was no home for all that stuff to go. While her parents waited for their appointment, I took her off their hands for a while. We drew pictures, sang songs, and got a great big blueberry muffin for a snack.
Jesus said his return would be a surprise, and I knew this was it when I looked into her chocolate eyes and saw the kingdom; an apartment with mommy and daddy and a warm bed and God grinning at the table, serving up something wonderful. And if all that didn’t convince me then the muffin did. She pulled it apart with her tiny black hands and pushed it into my mouth. And my eyes were opened and I recognized her.
I know the next time I see Jesus, he will be stooped and toothless, shuffling through the door in a mismatched pair of someone else’s shoes. But the way he’ll handle the coffee pot as he pours a cup of steaming salvation will tip me off. And that makes me feel goofy and excited, like something new. Not a new volunteer, but a new creation. I can hardly wait to share that cup.
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