The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


I saw Jesus today


I saw Jesus today.

We were visiting our son at a McDonald’s to say our goodbyes after attending parent’s weekend at his college. A man with an unkempt appearance approached our table. He wore an old denim jacket, not a robe or sandals. And instead of sporting a shepherd’s crook as an ancient traveler might, he was straddling a rusty bicycle. His demeanor was gentle. His bearded and toothless smile was full of weathered warmth.

As he approached our table, my apprehension grew. I kept my eye on him as my family remained in conversation. He leaned into our midst and said, “You all look so happy.” I suppose it was the way in which those words were delivered that caught my attention. I detected that this man didn’t take happiness for granted—for him it was not a right but something to be earned.

His insightful remark easily transcended race, age, class and gender. It didn’t seem to matter to him who we were. This man had the courage to speak to strangers, not with belligerence but with grace. To remind us of our fortune gave him a mission. It was as if he could have said, “Look at what wealth you have. Some people would pay a heavy price to be that happy. In fact, some couldn’t afford it at all.”

In all frankness, something came over me after he spoke. I was truly touched by his remark. I scurried to find spare change only to look up and watch him blend into the suburban landscape. In an instant he was gone. Yet his presence remained.

Was this Jesus? Does Jesus speak to us when we least expect it?

That Sunday our pastor elaborated upon the gospel passage: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). And I thought about the man at McDonald’s. I did see Jesus that day—he wasn’t wearing a robe but an old denim jacket and a smile that went right through me as he perched atop a dilapidated bicycle.

Check out this week's articles:

Cover 2Shattered into wholeness: (right) After a stroke, I find my way forward and receive new gifts.

South Dakota's flying bishop: David Zellmer gets around in a Cessna P210.

A story of separation and reunion: Wangerin book tells of experiences from two views.

Tracking E. coli: Fulbright takes researcher to Berlin.


Also: Justice and the early church.

Also: Silence.

Also: Pension unit pushes wellness plan.

Read these articles at our front page ...

Discuss Hospitality:

Alan JohnsonToday through Oct. 14: Join Alan Johnson (right) to discuss how a stroke led him to new insights about compassion, listening and hospitality.

Do you have to be broken in order to believe? This question became personal for me when I had a stroke at age 50. Without prior symptoms—in a second—I couldn’t speak or understand anything being said.

Consider reading "Shattered into wholeness" before joining in.

Join the discussion ...






This week on our staff blog:




Sonia Solomonson (right) blogs about customer service.

Andrea Pohlmann blogs about yoga in a New York public school.






Check out our staff blog ...


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