Making Connections

Brothers and sisters,

I have a random story to tell you all this week, but I hope that it can serve as a reminder of the opportunities we all have to make faithful connections. My story starts with me and my friend, Adam, deciding that we wanted to go to the ACC Tournament this year up in Washington, DC. We made the plans and bought the tickets all in one night. So, when you see that I’m on vacation in a couple weeks, you’ll know where I am!

That raised an issue for me though: I bought all my Carolina clothes when I was in undergrad, which was longer ago than I think! So, this past Sunday afternoon, I had to go to Franklin Street to restock my closet ahead of the tournament—emphasis on the “had to” part! I went through several stores, including walking all the way down to Student Stores on cam-pus, and came away with a good assortment of t-shirts and a nice new Carolina sweatshirt.

Now, when I bought that sweatshirt, the cashier assured me that it was a unisex XXL. When I got home and tried it on, I found that it was not! If I stood perfectly still with my arms down by my side, it barely covered my torso and only about 80% of my arms. I don’t know if you all know this, but at athletic events, you rarely stand perfectly still with your arms down by your side! As popular as crop tops have become, I decided that maybe they were not the look for, you know, the Reverend Benjamin Wines.

So now, I legitimately had to go back to Franklin Street to return this sweatshirt and buy a new one! So, Tuesday night, I went to Franklin Street, strolled up to the store, and found that they had closed early that day—so now I have to go back to Franklin Street a third time for one sweatshirt! Not to be defeated, I went to a couple of other stores and found a sweatshirt that I liked at The Shrunken Head Boutique—an institution! As I was checking out, the cashier and I started chatting.

She is currently a sophomore at UNC and is a double major in, of all things, neuroscience and religious studies. I told her that I had majored in religious studies at UNC and so we chatted about some of the professors there—turns out we had some of the same ones. I told her that I was a minister and asked if she was considering ministry and she said, “Not primarily, but I’m keeping my options open.” So I asked her, “What led you to both neuroscience and religious studies?” And she responded by telling me that she loved science and medicine and wanted to help people, but that sometimes science can get so focused on helping the person’s body, they for-get about the person themselves. She wanted to bridge that gap.

As it happens, Duke Divinity School partners with Duke’s School of Medicine to teach classes on exactly that—bridging the gap be-tween “patient” and “person.” So I told her about the program and encouraged her to look into it. She told me she would and then finished ringing me up. As I left we laughed and said, “What are the odds we’d run into each other and have this conversation?” And if you just consider random, generic “odds”—it’s pretty low. But I happen to believe in a God who can use a decision to go to the ACC Tournament, a closet full of raggedy old clothes, and an ill-fitting sweatshirt to bring people together.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben