I have frequented the Ohana Cafe in Huntington Beach for years. It is a family run business and I know the family well, as I have delivered 3 of the children and provide care to members of 4 generations. It has a small town atmosphere and the regulars know one another, many have developed friendships and often share a table.
I was sharing a table for lunch this past week with another regular (who is also a patient and friend) when two people walked in and sat at the table near us. By their ages I assumed they were father and daughter- she seemed to be in her twenties and he appeared to be about my age. I made eye contact with the dad when they came in and gave him a small nod and a "How you doing?" greeting.
When food arrived, the father reached across the table and took his daughter's hands and they bowed their heads for a prayer. It struck me that these strangers were no longer strangers, that they might actually be fellow Christians and we might actually be family. I spoke up and said, "So where do you all go to church?" He shared that they went to a baptist church in Compton.
We talked briefly about churches, and he said that church wasn't about where you attended but where your heart was. I agreed that what you did on Sunday did not matter near as much as what you did the rest of the week. After that brief exchange we went back to our meals.
My heart was warmed by the reality of all of the things that did not matter. It did not matter that they lived in Compton and I lived in Huntington Beach. It did not matter that they were black and I was white. It did not matter what we did for a living. In that moment what mattered was that we shared a faith in Christ and that because of that faith we were family.
When the waitress brought my check I quietly paid for both meals. I left before they knew their check had been covered, praying that they would be blessed by the fact that it was not a stranger, but a brother who paid the bill.