I had forgotten something about Long Island. Whenever you order an espresso from a restaurant or homegrown cafe, it is served with a wedge of lemon peel. You run the peel around the edge of your cup so that when you take a sip, a hint of its flavor follows the coffee into your mouth.
In a sense, Long Islanders are like their espresso. Their colorful personality and vitality punctuates everything they do. Last night was no exception.
What can I say? Last night’s seminar at Northport Baptist Church was one of the most wonderful occasions of ministry that I have had with Holy Ground. It wasn’t the church’s beautiful facilities, the enormous turnout, or the fantastic pastoral staff that made it so—although all of these were true in spades; it was the quality of conversation that unfolded in the Q&A session and discussions that followed.
This is the reason why I wrote Holy Ground, to help families navigate through the relational difficulties that often arise along the Catholic/Protestant fault line: children disowned for having left their Catholic background, husbands whose (Catholic) wives refuse to allow their children to attend his Protestant church, alienation, contention, and misunderstanding with one’s extended family. These situations, and others like them, were represented in full force.
Another unique feature of last night was the considerable number of Catholics who were present, thanks to Northport Baptist’s great job of promoting the event. This always makes for a better seminar as I get to model the grace/truth balance in response to serious and sometimes impassioned questions. Along this line, I received the best piece of feedback that I have heard to date. When the seminar was all said and done, a tough looking paisano approached me and said, “Tonight I brought three strongly conservative Catholic friends. They are wound tight and were ready for a debate. However, they found your approach so disarming, even though you continually preached the gospel and didn’t pull punches, that they listened intently for the entire session and left asking if we could continue the conversation.” I dare say, I can’t ask for a better outcome than this. Thanks for your prayers.