They were arguing about money. The guy decided he needed to get away from his fiancé for a bit to settle down, and he called a car service to get a ride to a bar.
A friend of mine who drives for Uber and Lyft picked him up, and the guy started venting. She’s going to drive me out of my mind. I had to get away from her just now. Man, this is just too much.
And then he turned to my friend and asked, “Are you married?” And when my friend said, yes, for over 30 years, the rider, astonished, asked, “How do you do it? How do you keep it together?”
And there, ahead of them, went the star.
My friend replied, “Well, her boyfriend is bigger than I am, and she listens to him more than she does me.”
“Boyfriend?!,” responded the rider. “How do you let her get by with having a boyfriend?”
And my friend said, “Her boyfriend is God.”
From there, they continued to talk about the nature of love, unconditional love, with my friend asking questions based on the scriptures about what real love looks like. Words from Corinthians shone through as he asked: Are you patient? Kind? Do you keep a record of wrongs? With the upshot that the rider realized he wasn’t loving his fiancé in the agape, unconditional, way, and had my friend take him back home to make things right instead of deadening his pain and frustration at the bar.
On Sunday, January 6, the Christian world rotated on its axis and moved into the season of Epiphany, moved from Christmastide into the season of the star, magis, gold, frankincense and myrrh. Added to rejoicing in Jesus’ birth with rejoicing in that joy being spread beyond the stable and manger. A time to rejoice in the glory of sharing Christ’s love with each other, yes, but beyond our own communities and worlds as well. The act of taking the love outward to all.
That’s what my friend did with his rider that day. As he put it, he doesn’t “throw” religion at people, but when he has an opportunity to share what real love means, he takes it. He takes the love and proclaims it. Takes it beyond his family, community, world and shares it abroad.
And there, ahead of him, went the star.
And for us, too, as we share God’s love with others.
Ahead of us, goes the star.
Photograph: Drawing by Mark and Nathaniel Elberfeld of star for bulletin cover upon the occasion of my ordination, January 6, 1994. My sons were then ages 10 and 15. They’re now 35 and 40.