I was a stranger
The snow was falling
thickly and quickly. The ‘phone
came alive as 9.00 O’clock struck.
“Are we going to
cancel the service? The snow is
quite thick here.”
It is supposed to be turning to rain.
I will go to the church in case anyone turns up.”
“The snow is quite thick should I come?”
Stay put. It’s not worth
the risk. We may have problems with
the car Park.”
“If you get stuck
I’ll walk over with a shovel and dig you out.”
Every 30 seconds I
kept looking at the weather, willing it to change.
“Why do you have to do this, God, on your day?”
We set off early.
The roads were heavy with snowy slush.
The temperature was 0.5 0C.Now
there was more rain in the snow. There
was already a car in the car park when we arrived.
The organist and her husband were sitting, waiting.
We set off along the path leaving them to follow.
There were footprints on the path, almost hidden by snow.
Whoever had come had arrived quite early and as there was only one set
leading towards the church they must still be in the church.
There was no-one in the porch and no lights were on. In the nave though was the owner of the footprints. He was huddled against the radiator. I’ll call him Adam. That’s not his real name but it seems rather appropriate. He’d been living with his girlfriend in Tewkesbury. They had fallen out. He’d taken his belongings to some friends and then set off to walk to Worcester where he hoped to find shelter through the British Legion. Adam had been in the army for 12 years and so he was hoping they would help him. He’d spent the night sleeping under a bridge. The temperature would have dropped to around freezing. He had no map and was unfamiliar with the area.
As he continued his
trek to Worcester he made a mistake and found himself heading for Little
Malvern. He saw the church and
prayed it would be open. Not only
was it open but the heating was on. He
made himself a cup of coffee and settled himself against a radiator to dry and
We started to acquire
a congregation. Two 90 year olds
arrived and a couple in their 80s. Someone
else who had traveled from some distance away.
We learned that there was no snow in Upton upon Severn.
We gathered in the monks stalls and managed to sing the Epiphany hymn
“Brightest and best of the sons of the morning”.
Well, we needed cheering up and we had an organist and the organ was now
working again, so why not? Outside
the rain was falling onto the snow and the sky was darkened by the heavy cloud.
We shared our Holy Communion and Adam sat against his radiator getting
warm and dry. His faith, he said,
was non-existent. He did not believe
but then he did not disbelieve. We
gave him another cup of coffee. Someone
passed him £10. We took Adam to
Worcester. There was no snow around Worcester.
It had been Malvern’s turn to be blest with it.
A very nice young
lady at the Maggs Centre for the homeless agreed to look after him.
Adam’s presence for
our service was a blessing. He gave
us an opportunity to express our faith in real terms.
What the service meant to him we will probably never know.
In mediaeval times a congregation would participate in a service simply
by being there and watching.
Perhaps that was what
it was for Adam. Before he left he
said “Thank you for your friendship. None
of you judged me or made me feel that I was in the way or wasn’t wanted.”
We may never know the rest of Adam’s story.
That doesn’t matter. He
gave us so much just in the short time we spent together.
We were only a
handful in number and much older than Adam. We had very little to offer him but
we shared with him what we had.
God teaches us so
much though through experiences like this. They
prompt us to think about the lad with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, the widow who gave
so much through giving so little and the two men who were walking from Jerusalem
just after the Crucifixion and asked Jesus to stay and share a meal with them.
So God took our bread, broke it, blest it and shared it.
suspect that none of us will forget that Holy Communion.
Thank you Adam.
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