Communion on the Streets
It started off just as a typical Sunday morning. However, being the end of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, coupled with it being the first significant rain we had experienced for the season, I decided to avoid Highway 17 and stay close to home. I would make the streets of Santa Cruz my worship space that day. Little did I know….
As I followed my normal outreach route that afternoon, I met two young teens on the streets.
“Can you spare any money for us to get out of the rain?” the young girl asked.
“I’m sorry, I don’t have any cash to give you,” I explained, “but I can help you get out of the rain for a bit.”
I asked them if they wanted me to purchase them a couple of movie tickets. Based on their glances back and forth to one another, they didn’t find this initial offer satisfactory.
This time the teenage boy asked for some money. And, again, I explained that I had none to give.
Again, rejecting my offer, this time their tone a little more filled with angst, my rebuttal back was something to the effect of (and equally snarky), “Fine. Then come with me if you want.”
As I walked down the street, I was surprised to realize that they were doing just that. They were actually following me down the street! Not really having a plan in place, my mind raced as I sorted out what to do with them next.
As my eyes darted around at the various storefronts, Petroglyph came to mind.
A place where you can paint your own pottery, I knew at least by paying their sitting fees, I could keep them both out of the rain for at least a few hours that afternoon.
As we walked through the door, the young man, Alex, immediately walked to the back of the store and plopped down on the couch. Not much interes
ted in expressing his artist side, he instead was going to get some much-needed rest.
Sam, on the other hand, obliged my offer and joined me at one of the tables to work on our craft. I asked her if she wanted to make anything in particular. She said she didn’t care. As I scanned the wall of materials, a large pitcher caught my eye. We needed a new Communion service set at the church, so I grabbed it, along with the chalices and a bread plate that would complete the set. Admittedly, I grabbed as much as I could so we could stay as long as the kids wanted to stay. I never actually thought we would get it all done.
Over the next 4–5 hours, Alex mostly slept, occasionally doing a “flyby” to see what “mess we were up to.” All the while, Sam worked diligently on a few of the chalices, working and reworking her design to make sure it was “good enough” for its intended use.
“Is it okay?” she asked me, hours into her work. “I want to repaint this one.” I figured she
maybe was just stalling from having to head back out in the rain. But in that next moment, God sat down right there with us at that table. “This is for your church’s Communion after all.”
I’m guessing we didn’t talk more than about 20 minutes total for that entire
me we were there. My Stephen Ministry training came in handy as I only spoke in response to the questions she asked me during our time. As we closed the place down that evening, I told them they could both leave, but they both chose to stay and help clean up instead.
As we finished and walked up to the counter, Alex finally talked to me directly and said, “I wish we could help you pay.”
“I’m just glad you were here to help me. And the people at my church are going to be overjoyed to know I had help in this and will be so impressed with your artistic work.” They smiled as I handed them each a Subway food card and told them to go get something to eat before it closed for the night. It had now stopped raining.
After they left, I went to sign the payment receipt, only to realize that the manager hadn’t charged us for any of our studio fees. I looked at her quizzically, and started to inform her she had undercharged us.
Intercepting my thoughts, she shared, “I’m not sure exactly what you were up to, but I want to do something to help.”
I explained about SEEDS mission and outreach and as she walked away with our Communion project (which would be fired and I would pick up later), she simply stated, “Thank you. Now that’s a good church.”