I had a short chat with Tim Keller this evening.
Last Sunday Aubrey and I were strolling Downtown Charleston in an attempt to see the inside of some of the historic churches. We were going past St. Michael's, and Pete who is the assistant to the rector noticed us walking up, me wearing my Covenant Seminary t-shirt. He knows people at Covenant, so he struck up a conversation with us. He was quite friendly, and mentioned off hand that Tim Keller is in town, and worships at his church when he's here. We had actually already known that Keller vacations in Charleston every year, and in order to make it 'vacationy' he stays away from the PCA churches.
So in a shameless bit of nerdy theological PCA star chasing, I went to the evening service at St. Michael's tonight while Aubrey was at a baby shower. He was there. It's an Episcopal church dating from the 1700's. Pete showed us the pew that George Washington and Robert E. Lee worshipped in when they visited. Its very majestic. They have pew boxes, where you actually have to open the door to get into your pew. They follow a formal liturgy, lots of responsive readings, prayers, kneeling, that sort of thing. They use real wine for communion, and a common cup, and really dry thin wafers. But after all of this liturgy, and formalism, and communion with real wine, we sang Shine Jesus Shine. I nearly fell out of my pew box.
After the service I was out on the sidewalk and Keller came out. I was kinda nervous, but I went over and introduced myself. I said my name and paused, he also paused, giving me a head-tilting look as if to say "remind me where I've met you." I assured him we had never met. We chatted about church, my life, going into ministry, and him being on vacation. As it turns out, his preaching voice from the sermon cd's is exactly the same as his normal conversation voice. That's not true for all preachers.
While I had stopped him to chat, his wife and whoever else he was with had kept on walking, so he quickly began to look around and see if they had left him. I apologized for making him lose his group, and he said "it was nice to meet you, Jeff," that's right, Tim Keller used my name. The whole exchange was only a couple of minutes. I bet there's not too many preachers who get stopped on the street by adoring fans.
I bet there's also not too many people who stop preachers on the street and get excited just to have been talked too.