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.