Journeying Mercies are prayed for especially when travelling by car in sub-Saharan Africa, of which more next month. In our intense British existence it is not so much safety but efficiency that we are concerned about when trying to move from A to B. In either case it is possible to ignore places and people on the way. Whether in a regular commute or a one-off expedition how much are we open to seeing and hearing new sights and sounds? Paying attention to our surroundings requires a freedom from selfish activity: the dominating impatience with other drivers (especially when you’re late); the isolating headphones on the train, a mind over-full with responsibilities, or emails, on the bus. Christians can practise a prayerful awareness of what God is doing and by active looking and listening be connectors of grace to the world.
This bigger picture of our daily round may be helped by themes of pilgrimage, a life long journey with a purpose, found in Jesus who is not just ‘the truth and the life’ but ‘the way’. (John 3:16)
It is easy to slip into an attitude of the Emmaus disciples, walking away from the action, with the depressing ‘we had hoped’ on their lips. (Luke 24:21) They did however have an advantage over us, 21st C western Christians, in being religiously animated and literate. Speaking with a stranger, the unrecognised, risen Jesus, they entered a vigorous discussion about the recent crucifixion and God’s activity in human history.
We may have to start our conversation with a lower expectation of people’s knowledge of scripture but if we ask open questions expecting stories of what matters to the other person we will find opportunities to show the care, compassion and converting power of Jesus.
The forthcoming Lay Conference on Saturday 15th November 2014 will give us opportunities to gain confidence in sharing Christian faith.
In 2015 I will be accompanying the people from each of our deaneries on Pilgrimage Days to celebrate 300 years of our Cathedral church building, St Philip’s. I hope these will give ample opportunity for cross-cultured ways of sharing faith alongside the Risen Lord Jesus.
The Rt Revd David Urquhart
Bishop of Birmingham