I love this video, there are more around of a similar kind, but this one shows clearly the surprise and than real engagement in the wonder of it all on peoples faces. There is a great moment where a mother and son are spellbound by the experience, and then she takes his hand, this is something to be shared; priceless!
I wrote this reflection after an encounter in a 24/7 prayer room:
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,*you did it to me.” ( Matthew 24: 34-40)
There are three of us in the prayer room, surrounded by books and maps, glue and litter, paper and paint, and all manner of other creative resources designed to aid our prayers. Music is playing too, a Taize Chant. calling us to look beyond ourselves, to bless God. "Bless the Lord my soul...."
There are three of us in the prayer room. Two of us were stressed when we got here. Finances are tight at the moment and we need to replace one of our cars.
"Bless the Lord my soul" the chant continues "bless God's holy name, bless the Lord my soul, who leads me into life..."
"He, leads me into life", the chant is both compelling and challenging.
There are three of us in the prayer room, the third one is quiet, he is contemplating a prayer book, choosing a prayer to copy out. His quiet presence is challenging me to see things from a different perspective. His challenge is not eloquent, he is simply present, he sits on a large leather sofa, absorbed in his task, over his head a banner is hung, with the words "Lord let your glory fall" emblazoned across it.
I wonder to myself... What does glory look like?
All three of us are praying now, pondering the different installations, and weighing our responses...
There are three of us in the prayer room, and we who were stressed are changing, changing because of the challenge of the third person...
His name is "Pete", he is in his early twenties, out of work and homeless, the hostels are full this evening, and it seems the least we can do is to offer him a warm place to be, to make him a cup of tea and offer him something to eat.
Pete is reading the Bible now, and his eyes have filled with tears, my eyes are drawn to the banner again; "Lord let your glory fall", maybe when you are homeless glory looks like a hot cup of tea...
The C.D. has stopped and we are all silent, and somehow the silence highlights our common humanity, I could say "there but for the grace of God go I", but what does that say about the grace of God towards Pete?
As we sit together I find that the stress of my day is lifting, a second car seems insignificant in the face of homelessness, even greedy.
Tomorrow we hope to help Pete to find somewhere to live, folk at this church regularly help homeless people, tonight we have offered food and warmth...
Our shift is over, and we are leaving to enjoy a meal with friends, the folk who are taking over have been told about Pete, and he is happy to stay indoors for the night.
I shake his hand, and he looks me straight in the eyes, I say that I hope things work out for him, and ask if it is OK to offer a simple blessing. He nods and his eyes fill with tears.
What does "God bless you" sound like to a homeless person? Better I suspect when it is accompanied by a cup of tea! Can a cup of tea become a sacrament? And is the blessing in the receiving or the giving?
I have been changed by this encounter...
Bless the Lord my soul, and do not worry about tomorrow.
Bless the Lord my soul, and do not forget his many blessings...
Bless the Lord my soul, and be ready to share for you are blessed...
Have you ever had to get ready for an important occasion? (Await responses and have a conversation about what it means to be ready)
Jesus was talking to his friends about a time yet to come, it wasn’t the kind of time that you could put in your calendar, but it was a time to look forward to, a time to get ready for.
Even before Jesus time, the ancient prophets had talked about it; it was a time when there would be peace in the world, when we wouldn’t hear about war anymore. A time when nobody would be hungry again and sickness would not be heard of. A wonderful time when everyone would know God and all would be well.
Jesus told his followers to be ready for that time, that even though they didn’t know when it would come, he told them to be ready.
And do you know what, even though that time still has not come even two thousand years later, Jesus friends still get ready for it, not only because it is something to look forward to, but because by being ready they began to make the world around them a better place.
You see when Jesus told people to get ready he didn’t mean they should pack a suitcase, but that they should think about how they live. That they should be kind and generous, that they should think about others before themselves, and that they should remember the stories they had been told by Jesus, remember the things he had done, and the things he told them to do….
Don’t worry about getting thing’s he’d told his followers, trust me, and trust God.
Be ready to share, not only what you have, but your love for others as well.
And all through hundreds of years Jesus followers have been reminding one another to be ready, and in many, many ways they have made the world a better place.
So next time you are getting ready for an important date remember, there is another date coming, a date we can't put in our calendars, because it is God's special secret, but we can get ready for it anyway, just by thinking about how we live!