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April 27, 2012

THE JOY LADY: April 28, 2012

TERRE HAUTE — Last Sunday, as we do most every Sunday, my husband and I went out for dinner after church with some friends. The restaurant was filled with other people dressed in their Sunday best, obviously fresh from their church services. There was lots of laughter and chatter. However, that was just the patrons. The servers and the hostess were rushing around carrying menus and trays of food while working hard at maneuvering through tables that had been moved to accommodate large groups and people leisurely conversing in the now limited open spaces between the tables. Every single one of the servers was perspiring because they were working so hard.

When our server came to our table with our drinks, my husband did what he always does. He asked the server her name and told her that in a minute we were going to pray our thanks to God for the food he was providing, and then he asked, “Is there anything you would like us to pray about for you?” (There’s a whole column’s worth of responses we’ve gotten to that question … maybe I’ll share them with you some time!)

But last Sunday, our server’s prayer request was disturbing. She put her order pad down and heaved a huge sigh. “As a matter of fact, yes, I do need your prayers.” She spread her hands out and looked around the restaurant. By this time, her tears were threatening to spill over. “Today is Sunday, and as you can see we are very busy. Please pray that I will be able to do all that these people expect of me. I need my tip money to pay some bills I got when my son broke his arm. But Sunday is not usually a good day for big tips.”

Just before she left with our order, our server said, “Sunday customers are horrible. They are impossible to please, leave little or no tips, and we’re always glad when they finish eating and go home.” Needless to say, we prayed for her, and asked forgiveness for our thoughtlessness in the process.  

It reminded us of a friend of ours who used to manage a McDonald’s. She said her employees always complained about Sundays and having to serve those who come straight from church. The church folk were demanding, grouchy, and rarely would the McDonald’s employees see a smile or hear a word of encouragement. Even rarer would they hear a simple “Thank you.”

It is very disturbing to think that we who come straight from church — straight from worship services that focus our minds on God, who He is, what He did for us, how He loves us — forget all about that when we sit down to be waited on. Grouchy words and faces replace grateful songs and praises. Demands for service replace commands to serve. Miserly tight-fistedness replaces compassionate generosity.

What kind of Christian witness do we display when we go out to eat on Sundays after church? I hope your answer disturbs you enough that you will make some changes.          

I know mine did.

Verna Davis, speaker and writer, maybe reached at vrdspeaks@yahoo.com.

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