Sunday, 26 March 2017

Drop inns

I try to do church In a place where drop ins are rare. So when you look across the hall and see four young men (17-19 year olds) siting waiting I am taken back a bit. So during the conversation I discover they are Spanish speaking and I invite my professor over, he speaks Spanish and Russian. They are from Barcelona and stoping in town saw our banner and thought they would visit us. The cynic inside cried out but I ignore that cynic and get tea and coffee organised offer them care and hospitality. Just as the service starts they move table then leave and following them is my retired Colleague. So I go out the other door, me shouting to my colleague to stop he's far to old to be chasing young men. 

Well they stole his wife's purse, I chase them and they jump into a car and speed off. 

They stole a purse from a blind elderly woman we also find out they stole someone's phone someone who gives generously to our community day in day out. 

Last Friday an 80 year old man smoking outside a local elderly village was mugged for his money by four young men, they roughed him up because he would not let them into the complex. 

I'm not sure what sort of low life shit gets up of a morning planning to steal its way through the day but we gave hospitality to four today. And I presume until the full painful stinging force of law falls upon them they will repeat today's activity across our city. 

Yes I know what some of you are thinking I'm supposed to be a Christian? I should forgive. 
Well I'm not open to forgive today maybe tomorrow when my anger has been bathed afresh in Gods grace. 

I don't know their story because they chose to abuse hospitality and steel from good people rather than share and ask. They had a good idea they would find in church foolish trusting people willing to build build friendships. I don't know where they were from, Spain? North Africa? London? I don't know because they chose to abuse and steal rather talk. 

So now I have a crime number, a hurting congregation and an angry disappointed vicar seeking Some grace. 

Friday, 24 March 2017

It's not all bad here


It's my day off but I have a excepted an invitation. At one of the local schools I take assembles at, they are celebrating Red Nose Day. I am one of three judges spotting talent, Schools Got Tallent show. We watch the children on the stage we clap , smile, inwardly mark the talent. Singers, dancers, gymnasts, strongmen, hula hoopers, keyboard players and very enthusiastic teachers and support staff. We watch we listen we clap we award. I see the same faces I present my assemblies to. Black, brown, white, dirty, clean, Muslim Shiek Christian, Jewish, Pagan, Humanist  non believers,. We cheer, we clap, we smile, we award a winner. Month in month out for 17 years I have shared with them my faith in following Jesus. I have encouraged them to care, to look for the one on the edge of the playground, to be generous too each other. 

I go home to wash the car and and waterproof its roof. A mom and daughter returning from the other school I take assemblies at wave at me and say Hi. But they return, first the daughter then the mom. They look splendid in their Muslim head scarves and illuminated smiles. The daughter tells me it's her birthday and she gives me sweets, she wants to share her birthday treat with me. 

Across the country and around the world today Birmingham is being judged for the wrong reasons. 

It would be best if you judge us on the ordinary. The ordinary children who support each other, the ordinary teachers and staff bringing the best out of our children, the ordinary kindness of a mother and child sharing their birthday treat with an ordinary urban priest doing an ordinary job. These ordinary events will not make the headlines today or tomorrow but they are what make my part of Birmingham a place of hope.