Here I am giving the Mayor of Kingston a hand massage at the Surbiton Festival on Saturday. I had a great day with lots of good conversations about life and faith. One encounter in particular has left me wondering if we try to answer the question that people aren’t actually asking. I met an amazing lady who wanted prayer because she described herself as a healer. She felt depleted because having given out to others she needed to be spiritually replenished. Before allowing us to pray, she checked that we were Christians and described how she had had a vision of Jesus 18 months ago. She recounted how wonderful it had been and that in that moment she would have gone anywhere with Him had He asked. My fellow Christian then began to explain how Jesus had died for her sins and asked me for a ‘Why Jesus?’ booklet to give her. Since, I have begun to wonder whether rather than ‘Why Jesus?’ we should be seeking to express ‘Who Jesus?’ It was the Pharisees who questioned why. Jesus’ friends and followers wanted to know Him and imitate His example.
My son had his first match of the season at the weekend. Unfortunately his team lost 8-0! Part of the problem is that all their kits are the same size but boys come in all shapes and sizes. As you can see, this oversized kit can really impede speed and agility. Anyway that was their excuse! This reminds me of David going to fight Goliath in armour that was not his own and way too big. Fortunately he had the sense to be himself and use what he knew in a different context, that of defending his sheep, to defeat the Philistine. But how often do we try and use models that others have had success with to do what God is calling us to? Maybe a large part of the fun and the challenge of our journey of faith is to allow God to work through our creativity to find new and more appropriate ways to outwork His Kingdom where we are. That is what I will be doing at the weekend as we seek to bless and reveal God’s love and goodness to those who come along to the Surbiton Festival. This also makes me wonder about how our one size fits all mentality applies to the way we do church. Didn’t Jesus say something about the need for new wineskins for the new wine?!
I loved a seminar I went to at the weekend as part of Inspire church network day out. It has introduced me to the world of open theology which I am looking forward to finding out a lot more about. But as part of the experience I also had to endure the bit I really hate, worship. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with God but I find it so hard being in a room full of people who are so confident that they can change the world. Sometimes it is as much as I can do to get out of bed. So when those who wondered if they could ‘go again’ to make a difference were invited to be prayed for, I reluctantly went to the front. I hate standing there waiting for someone to petition God on my behalf but soon I was surrounded by kind friends along with my 11 year old son, Dan. People prayed and encouraged me. Then Dan spoke words straight into my situation which I knew could have only been revealed by the divine. A couple of days later a friend recounted a conversation she had with a child about how lots of things that were in books which we wished could be true were not, and yet how some of those things we are told are not true really are. This got me thinking about how the older I become the less sure I am about having any answers to the big questions but also the less it seems to matter. Maybe this is what it means to be like a child in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is less about understanding, more about wonder – running into the light with the anticipation of limitless possibilities.
Thanks to Jonny Baker for the inspiring image.