Friday: I was grocery shopping, very tentatively the elderly gentleman approached from a shop door; a clean, tidy man, very much the image of a kindly grandfather – it took courage for him to proffer a slip of green paper.
“What a wonderful friend Jesus is.” He said. Getting ready to run for it.
“Yes,” I replied we’ve been friends for some time.”
He gave a relieved, shy smile and was gone. Mission accomplished.
Sunday: Waking up, I was aware of my friend saying “Good morning” in the way many of his friends know, but have difficulty in talking about, it’s no secret, our friend’s way of speaking – just a hard thing to talk about. He made his presence known by filling me up to the brim with his deep, deep peace, making me aware that he was holding me, just a little while, in his love. After all this is what friends do-they find a way to make their feelings known. Now Sunday bought problems and concerns but the warmth, calm of that early morning stayed, evening came. all problems resolved.
Tuesday: Jill MacDonald, Lay Reader from St James’ Church, Rounds Green visited the Ladies’ Class. She came in and quietly began to make an outline of something on the hall floor. Our normal chatty exchange of greetings ceased the moment we made out the design on the floor, the cross, it’s outline drawn with softly, glowing tea lights and small, black, polished stones. All made way, for the King of Kings – he had only to whisper now, and we would have heard.
Jill read two passages from St Mark Chapter 6 (the events surrounding the Feeding of the Five Thousand) and drew our attention to the little word ran in verses 32 and 55 reminding us how crowds ran to listen to him. Ran to carry to him all who needed his healing touch. Speaking quietly she reminded us of how many of those crowds who ran to Jesus ran from him when his teaching became too difficult.
“This is a hard teaching who can accept it!” (John 6:66)
“Following Jesus,” Jill said, was never easy. Accepting many of the things he taught and asks of us hard, difficult.. We were invited to bring away a candle and a stone with us to remind us that Jesus is the Light if the World, a light for our path and of the hard, difficult things we all wrestle with as Christians and human beings.
Looking back to Friday’s encounter whilst shopping, I acknowledge with respect the dignity and courage of what that gentleman was seeking to do for his Saviour and friend. He was seeking to follow in the footsteps of the apostles and witness to him. Many of us never find the courage to do that. It is a hard teaching and we run from it. Many of us no doubt would even avoid that stretch of pavement had we known he was there. Yes, even churchgoing folk like us find it a hard, difficult thing to acknowledge that we have faith, and a friend in Jesus, yet Jesus requires that we should do this.
I’ve known my friend, Jesus a long time, before I think I knew my ABC. Now that was a hard thing, wasn’t it learning our ABC. Learning to recognise the shape of the letters, then putting them together to spell a word, then to read and write a whole sentence – but with patience, perseverance and help from Teacher, we got there, I believe this is how it is with the teaching of Christ, with perseverance and his help we will get there.
As far as my own personal mastery of the heavenly ABC is concerned, I think I can manage to write:
JESUS = FRIEND = SAVIOUR
That was the unspoken message written in the form of a candlelight cross outline on the church hall floor a message which we could all read, and whilst reading experience together the embrace of a friend.
Our closing prayer, every week.
May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all