I Like Big Buts: There is No Distinction

Jason Micheli —  July 19, 2018 — Leave a comment

 My podcast, Crackers and Grape Juice, has released an ebook, available in paperback too, as a fundraiser to cover the costs of the show. Below is a little teaser from a reflection I wrote on Romans 3.

You can listen to a podcast the guys did about the book with out me below.

Go to Amazon and get the book. Even better, leave us a review there. It’ll help people find the book.

As many of you know, I do a lot of my work at Starbucks.  I have my reasons. For one thing, I get more accomplished without Dennis pestering me to show him how his computer works. But to be honest, the main reason I go to Starbucks…is because I like to eavesdrop. It’s true. What ice cream and cheesecake were to the Golden Girls eavesdropping is to me. 

     At Starbucks I’m like a fly on the wall with a moleskin notebook under his wing. I’ve been dropping eaves at coffee shops for as long as I’ve been a pastor and, until this week at least, I’ve never been caught. 

     This week I sat down at a little round table and started to sketch out a funeral sermon. At the table to my left was a 20-something guy with ear phones in and an iPad out and a man-purse slung across his shoulder. At the table to my right were two middle-aged women. They had a bible and a couple of Beth Moore books on the table between them. And a copy of the Mt Vernon Gazette. 

     The first thing I noticed though was their perfume. It was strong I could taste it in my coffee. 

     Now, in my defense I don’t think I could properly be accused of eavesdropping considering just how loud the two women were talking. Like they wanted to be heard. Their ‘bible study’ or whatever it had been was apparently over because the woman by the window closed the bible and then commented out loud: 

‘I really do need to get a new bible. This one’s worn out completely. I’ve just read it so much.’

     Not to be outdone, the woman across from her, parried, saying just as loudly: 

‘I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t spend time in the Word every day. 

I don’t know what people do without the Lord.’ 

     “They do whatever they want” her friend by the window said. 

     And I said- to myself- ‘Geez, I’ve sat next to two Flannery O’Connor characters.’

     I assumed that since they were actually reading the bible there was no way they attended this church, but just to make sure I gave them a double-take. They had perfectly permed hair flecked with frosted highlights. And they had nails in which I could see the reflection of their large, costume jewelry. 

     “Baptists” I thought to myself. 

     They continued chatting over their lattes as the woman by the window flipped through the Mt Vernon Gazette. She stopped at a page and shook her head in disapproval.  

     Whether she actually said ‘Tsk, tsk, tsk,’ or I imagined it I can’t be sure. 

     The other woman looked down at the paper and said: ‘Oh, I heard about that. He was only 31.’ 

     ‘Did you hear it was an overdose?’ the woman by the window said like a kid on Christmas morning. 

     And that’s when I knew who they were gossiping about. I knew because I was sitting next to them writing that young man’s funeral sermon. 

     ‘Did he know the Lord?’ the woman asked. 

     ‘Probably not considering the lifestyle’ the woman by the window said without pause. 

     They went on gossiping from there.  They used words like ‘shameful.’ They did not, I noticed, use words like ‘sad’ or ‘tragic’ or ‘unfortunate.’ 

     It wasn’t long before the circumference of their conversation spun its way to encompass things like ‘society and what’s wrong with it,’ how parents need to pray their kids into the straight and narrow, and how this is what happens when our culture turns its back on God.’ 

     After a while they came to a lull in their conversation and the woman opposite the window, the one with the gaudy bedazzled cross on her neck, gazed down at the Mt Vernon Gazette and wondered out loud: 

    ‘What do you say at a funeral like that?’ 

     And without even looking at them, and with a volume that surprised me, I said: ‘The same damn thing that’ll be said at your funeral.’ 

     They didn’t even blush. But they did look at me awkwardly. 

     ‘I hardly think so’ the woman by the window said, sizing me up and not looking very impressed with the sum of what she saw. 

     And so I laid my cards down: ‘Well, I probably won’t be preaching your funeral, but I will be preaching his.’ 

     And then I pointed at her theatrically worn bible, the one resting on top of her copy of A Heart Like His by Beth Moore, and I said: ‘If you actually took that seriously you’d shut up right now.’

     “No one is righteous, not one,” St. Paul indicts us all in Romans 3.

   Go get the book now!





Jason Micheli


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