Views from the pew of Waffle House UMC
By TOMMY WILLINGHAM
I'm a morning kind of guy, up at 5:10 each day, cup of coffee, shower, then breakfast. I usually cook my own breakfast as a part of my morning ritual, but three or four times a month I like to stop by the local Waffle House on my way in to the Methodist Center.
When I'm eating alone, I spend the majority of my time with my iPhone in my hand, checking emails and catching up. But, not at the Waffle House -- there's too much happening to risk missing something. The clientèle at the WH is as eclectic as it gets. And, the great thing about it is, nobody, as unique as some are, is out of place.
The WH I frequent is full of some interestingly odd people, but we all seem to be right at home together. There's Ponytail Guy, the older fellow with the gray beard and long gray ponytail who looks to have never left the sixties.
Sitting on the barstool next to him is the African-American girl who always has on an over-sized, dirty golf-type shirt, and she always has her arms and hands tucked up inside the shirt like she's freezing cold.
A couple of stools down from them is the transvestite who's always decked out in a brightly colored dress and spiked heels.
In the booth closest to the door is the Prince look-alike, from head to toe. The artist Prince is in the house - Waffle House that is. Right in the middle is Jack. That's what I call him because he drives the big Jack Daniels whiskey truck that he parks on the edge of the lot before coming in for a morning cup of coffee and two slices of toast.
Rounding off our little community of misfits are the two waitresses, Nell and Keisha, and the genius memory guy cook, Rob. Oh, and me, Mr. Dress Pants and Button-down Shirt, two eggs scrambled, dry wheat toast and Diet Coke guy sitting on the barstool by the cash register...
All-in-all, I guess we're a sort of motley crew. But none of us seems to feel out of place. We all seem to get along and enjoy observing, chatting, laughing, and dining together for our brief morning, predawn convergence.
I wonder sometimes, why is the Church so exclusive? Why do people only seem comfortable worshiping with other people who are pretty much just like them? Is life an extension of worship - or, maybe even more appropriate, shouldn't worship be an extension of our real life?
I wonder if, perhaps, my Waffle House experience may be more representative of what our churches should look like than what most of us see on any given Sunday morning?
I don't know, really. Perhaps worshipping with people like us somehow builds us up and prepares us for our real-life relationships and encounters. Maybe I'll just keep communing with my Waffle House family until Jesus comes back. Then I'll know for sure what real, authentic community should look like. Till then, grace and peace, two eggs scrambled, wheat toast, Diet Coke and eclectic table-mates to get the day going just may need to suffice.