Experiencing Jesus in the Grocery Store

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I don't know why, but the grocery store can often bring out the absolute worst in me. I've narrowed it down to a couple of things that could be wrong:

1) I am an introvert, and there is simply no time of day that the grocery store is not crowded. Loving people have suggested different times to try to swing by when it will be "less busy," but it's always busy. I always have to be around people. And because I often go to the store after work, I have to be around people after having spent the whole day being around people.

2) The situation as described above creates a delicately short fuse, and my patience goes down to about zero. This is terrible, as some folks have the nerve to care about what they are feeding their families, and so take the time to read labels. This runs against my own practice of "who cares! Throw it in the cart!" and makes me a steaming cauldron of anger as I watch these loving people stand between me and the milk cartons.

3) I feel like this last step in the anger train should be converted to a law of some kind, but when no employee is available, we should all offer to bag our own groceries. It is inevitably the case that someone who is purchasing a year's supply of canned goods will be ahead of me in line, and while the poor cashier summons what strength is available at the end of a 10 hour shift to scan each item, the person ahead of me will blissfully tap their toes and stare into the void of nothing, contemplating heaven knows what. Is it too much to ask that you offer to bag your groceries? I do it all the time, and it both a) makes the weary cashier really grateful and b) moves things along quickly.

So for these reasons and probably a whole host of others that will later require therapy, I have a hard time with the grocery store.

Which is why it's my go to place to remind folks when I'm preaching that Jesus is always around us. Yes, Jesus is easily found in the church. Some of us sing our favorite hymn and boom, there he is sitting next to us. And for some of us, stepping outside in nature is another reliable place to find Jesus. Give me a hike in the woods, and I'll find the Lord no problem. But if Jesus is truly everywhere, it means he's in some unexpected places too. It means he's in the drive through. It means he's in the board room. And yes, it means he's in the grocery store.

How do we experience Jesus in these odd places then? For me, the answer is almost always to find him in the shoes of the people around me. The woman who is staring at the ingredients in a can of soup is probably over worked, over tired, and over scheduled, and just trying to find a way to feed her family something healthy. Maybe the person who won't bag their groceries (seriously though, it should be a law) has a lot on their plate, and is just taking a (currently legal) few moments to collect his thoughts before heading on to the next meeting. And if you can't find Jesus anywhere in the people around you, perhaps it would suffice to just count the blessing of a store where any food item we need is plentiful and affordable.

The grocery store probably doesn't bother you as much as it does me, but I'm willing to bet that there are places in your life that you can't possibly imagine Jesus hangs out. He does. He's there right now. What does it look like for us to expand our vision, to open our eyes to the ways that Jesus is present in unexpected people, to even experience Jesus in each other?

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