Out of Gas or Divine Intervention?
By John Verderber
At the beginning of Great Lent last spring Fr. Andrew suggested that
the church doors be unlocked from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm on weeknights when no services were
being held. He hoped this would give parishioners, as well as visitors, the opportunity
to come in to St. Luke Church to pray, read, or just sit in the quiet of God's House. I
offered to unlock the church doors on those evenings and welcome people who came to enjoy
the solitude, just as I was doing
Nothing very eventful happened during that time, that is, not until the
Fifth week of Great Lent on a cold, gloomy Monday evening (April 2nd). Just before one of
our parishioners was to arrive to chant the Psalms, a tall, red-haired man with a thick
brogue entered through the church doors looking as though he had a problem. As I greeted
him, he related to me that he had run out of gas and needed to call his friend. While we
waited for his friend to arrive, the man asked me many questions about the Orthodox faith.
He told me that he was Catholic and believed that the Pope was the head of the Church. I
gave him literature to read about the Orthodox Church.
In the hour that ensued we discussed icons and their role in the
church, as well as chanting versus reading. I explained that when we chant we are singing
praises to our God. I then asked the man if he would like to read from the Bible, and he
said he would try it. To my surprise, our visitor started chanting instead of reading.
Chanting was difficult for him, but as I practiced with him, his chanting improved.
Soon the man's friend came in and sat down to listen. (She later told
me that she was a non-practicing Catholic). When the man finished his chanting, I told
both of them keep the literature I had given them. I also invited them to come to a
scheduled service to worship with us. Then they left.
Just when you least expect it, God surprises you with "a pop quiz"
which actually tests your own knowledge and faith, and gives you a chance to evangelize.
Some people might just see this as a coincidental situation and say, "Well, the guy was
just out of gas and St. Luke Church was the nearest stopping place." However, other people
who have had similar experiences may just well interpret this as Divine Intervention. Was
the Monday night visitor really "just out of gas" or did God intervene to fill the man's
empty "spiritual tank? What do you think?