I nearly called this blog Commuter Christianity as the encounters I refer to all happened on a day trip to London. Also, I suspect that there is a sense in which we are all commuters, journeying towards the eternal destination. But, I didn’t go with Commuter Christianity because on reflection all of the encounters in some way (I think) were initiated, by others because I was sporting my uniform – in this case a rather natty tonsur collar!
I sometimes (well quite often actually) suffer from a desire to do something truly heroic; but I suspect that heroism is not part of my calling. On the surface there is something really appealing (yet deeply sinful) in the thought that I might do just one thing that is so heroic that it provides me with a story that I can trade off for the rest of my mortal days, thereby ‘absolving’ me of the requirement to minister into the mess and ambiguity of daily life!
I have also come to a realisation that one of the reasons God wants me in a dog collar is that I am not strong enough to be an effective advocate for him dressed in secular clothes. I need a uniform! But, and here is the really good news, so do others. A uniformed Andrew is more use to God and His people than a plain clothed Andrew.
So here we go with three ordinary pastoral encounters:
Getting on the tube at Euston I was approached by a young and highly distraught Liverpudlian who couldn’t work out how to get to Lewisham on the tube. So I travelled with him as far as St. Paul’s and made sure he was on the right train. We had time to chat and I was able to offer him God’s blessing as I went on my way.
At At. Paul’s I was approached by two young women from California who wanted me to bless some rosary beads they had just purchased, which I did, but actually the real prayer was for the pain that sat behind the rationale for buying the rosaries.
On the way back to Milton Keynes I was able to offer my seat to a lady with her leg in a caste so she could stretch out her leg and ease her discomfort. (She clearly desired the extra leg room to ease her pain).
So three short, unspectacular, pastoral encounters. Will they have a lasting impact? God knows. Its His business not mine. But, just two thoughts:
Do you expect to incarnate Christ in the small and normal or (like me) would you prefer the one big act of heroism? Do we prefer our missionary encounters to be the result of our own grand strategies or the promptings of others (including the Holy Spirit)?
Should Christians clothe themselves in Christ, both literally and symbolically? Does what we wear change expectations and behaviours? I suspect it does!