Fr. Dale Matson
I sat in my doctor’s examination room today, expecting the usual back and forth, polite but non-productive banter. He is not always a good listener. During the usual prolonged waiting, I was also thinking of how our country was slipping into an anti Christian stance. I am not accustomed to it. When I was young, we even had blue laws in Detroit that closed businesses on Sunday. Time Magazine referred to Madalyn Murray O'Hair as the most hated woman in 1964. She would be mainstream in today’s world. It unsettles me when I think about the future for Christians.
My doctor was not the one with gentle rapping on the exam room door. Instead, I was greeted by the nurse practitioner. She introduced herself with what sounded like a Russian accent. We chatted about my anemia problems. I felt like I needed to get her up to speed on my ongoing issues. I was also curious about her accent. I said, “Did you come here from Russia? Are you Russian? She said, “I am Russian and Ukrainian.” “You must be very concerned about what is going on in the Ukraine.” She said, “I still have relatives there and pray for them and the Ukraine every day.” I said, “Are you Russian Orthodox or Pentecostal?” “No, I am Baptist. We are like the Pentecostals but we don't speak in tongues. My career was cut short in the Soviet Union because I would not join the party; the Communist Party. I am a Christian and it meant that there was persecution. Many suffered for the faith. We were careful not to publicly mention the name Jesus to someone we did not know. We have it good here though.” I said, “Perhaps but it may change yet in my lifetime. We hope our laws of free speech will not be misinterpreted. There are already words that cannot be mentioned. People can be charged with hate speech.”
As we talked, I felt a bit guilty that others were waiting to be seen. I moved to get closure on the medical reason for the visit and closure on our conversation. It was very evident to me however that here was two Christians talking to one another who had never met yet there was total candor and honest heartfelt conversation. “I will pray for you, Russia and the Ukraine.” She said to me, “God Bless You.” I responded that I was an Anglican Priest and gave her a ‘Priestly’ blessing with my hand. We shook hands goodbye.
I am sure thousands and thousands of these conversations go on every day across the country in professional settings. It is two or more gathering together. It is the underground church convened by the Holy Spirit. I made a point of writing her name in my journal. If only I was as careful about remembering the names of the other new folks I meet. I went to church today in my doctor’s examination room.