Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Rottweiler

Irritation crept in as I pressed the handle down for hot water and heard a gurgle that told me the pot was empty. I was already disgruntled because I had to get up too early, and this did nothing to improve my mood. Can I help you? a bright and cheery voice said behind me. I turned to see the hotel breakfast attendant- a young man, all smiles, wearing his red Best Western apron with pride. There's no hot water for tea, I grumbled.
Oh, I'm so sorry about that. But here's another pot of hot water we use for oatmeal...can I pour some for you?
No thanks, I retorted quickly, you need boiling water for tea, and it won't be hot enough. I'll just wait. Still smiling, the young breakfast attendant poured some of the hot water into a dish and tested it with his fingers. Yep, he laughed, as he quickly withdrew them, it's hot!
But I am stubborn. No thanks, I said again. I'll just wait, and turned away. Less than twenty seconds later, the young man reappeared at my side holding a fresh cup of steaming water and a teabag. Here you go, he said cheerfully. Can I get you anything else?
For the next thirty minutes, I watched and listened as this young man greeted each and every hotel guest who came for breakfast, from the youngest to the oldest, conversing easily in Spanish and English. I watched him welcome, chat, laugh, run, fetch, lift, carry, clean, and serve, all the time wearing a big smile on his face. I was not the only guest to compliment him on his excellent service.
The young man's name is John. He is a senior in college studying Hotel Hospitality. And his philosophy when he comes to work each morning is 'to make everyone happy.' John succeeded.
I have no idea if John is a Christian. I have no idea if he knows just how Christ-like he is. But I cannot help compare him to a Christian man I once knew who stood like a guard dog at the entrance to our sanctuary, on the look-out for any 'undesirables.' I can still picture the scene as if it were yesterday, that Sunday morning when my son's friend decided to try out this 'religion thing' for the first time. And how the rottweiler growled as the teenager entered the church, and let out his most ferocious bark, Take that hat off! I distinctly remember how my son's friend turned crimson as he pulled his hat from his disheveled hair, in front of the entire choir, congregated in the entrance to the sanctuary, robed in their finest. Of course he never came back. Why would he?
And as I prepare to welcome children and families to our church this Sunday, I'm going to try my best to emulate John...because it's people like him who ensure that the Best Western hotel is full...while sadly, our churches are not.