Monday, December 20, 2010

Meeting Christ in People.

Recently I've managed to catch up with some old friends who I haven't seen for years. Its a result of being part of this phenomenon called facebook and social networking. Maybe I'm lazy or that life always seems to be like a strong current pulling you along with new landscapes and relationships to navigate that unless you really try you can easily loose track of people who have had a significant role in your life in the past. Facebook give me a chance to 'at the click of a mouse button' reconnect with people, at one level and begin the process of reconnecting in a face to face, life to life way.  I've moved around in NZ quite a bit and we do all tend to be very mobile here in New Zealand, so it has been easy to leave one place and go to another and have to forge new relationships and friendships. When I turned 40, we had just moved to Dunedin in the South Island, but it was great that I was able to have in six people that Kris and i invited out to dinner to celebrate people who had played a significant role in various big chunks of my life. A couple who I had looked up to growing up in Titirangi (to the west of Auckland), friends from Rotorua, where i worked at St john's Presbyterian Church for six years (In fact they were the people who had been the first to invite us to their place for lunch when we arrived, and filled their hot pol for us to soak in, a real Rotorua luxury), and a couple I had meet and valued when we  moved to Dunedin ( I was mentoring him in his youth ministry).

In the last year having moved back to Auckland I've made connections with people from my youth again and had coffee and dinner with them and it's been great being able to acknowledge the big parts they had played in my life. in fact all three had come round to my house the day my dad had died (back when I was 20) and offered simply to sit with me in silence, go away if i wanted to be alone or talk and listen to tales of my father if i wanted to talk. It was a valuable gift that I have always treasured. Interestingly enough one of my friends when I told him about that time and thanked me for it couldn't remember saying the words that had been so important to me.

It may sound strange but the one time I have walked into a church and experienced God's love and presence the most was the Sunday after my mother died. I shouldn't be surprised that God actually cares, but in a very profound way he spoke to me and showed me his care. An old friend of mine Micheal was an elder at the church we went to worship at that day, the minister was away and so Micheal was speaking and he shared from one of my favourite Psalms about the psalmist wrestling with grief and sorrow and still placing his trust in God and he shared in the context of only two weeks before that Sunday having to deal with his fathers death and speaking at his fathers funeral (that was exactly what I was going to do the next day at my mothers funeral). he spoke of wrestling with grief but in the midst of that experiencing God's presence. Amazing that God should speak right into my circumstances through someone who had been a significant part of my life. I heard God's voice in a voice I could trust speaking into my situation.

I am amazed at how I hear God speaking to me through new people I meet as well. Encouragement, correction, inspiration, compassion as well as being willing to share with me their lives and to tell you the truth sometimes simply dealing together with the trivia of life and necessity of getting things done.

My prayer at the moment is that everyone I meet, old friend, new friend, brief acquaintance I might value the contribution they make to my life. Even people we may not usually recognise as being God's gift. Bus drivers are a good example, I always thank them as I get off the bus they have managed to get me safe to work and home gain through the midst of Auckland's crazy traffic. Cleaners, they make life at work so much better and in scripture Ministry is seen as service and waiting on tables.

yup, there are times when I'm tired and grumpy and my family will tell you down right obnoxious, but I'm trying to treat everyone I meet as if I'm encountering Christ in them, and that they are an object of God's love and grace... and just maybe God is wanting to speak to me through them.

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