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Looking About

In the gospel of Mark, uniquely so far as I can tell, the evening after the triumphal entry to Jerusalem Jesus walks into the city and goes to the Temple, looking around at everything.  I have always imagined that he looked around not just inside the Temple about around him at the streets as he walked along.  This week as I have walked to and from work each day, I have been looking around me, at sights that are, for now, new and different, but will all too soon become essentially wallpaper.  There are interesting and intriguing shops just waiting to be explored (especially those that sell books!), there are closed shops waiting to be turned into yet another supermarket.  Then there are the people I begin to recognise: the girl in the pancake shop preparing surfaces for the day ahead, the man in the coffee shop waiting for early customers... and the beggars.

This is what has surprised me most - there are lots of beggars along the road I walk each day.  An older, eastern European (?) woman with a mouth organ who sits in the bus shelter, a younger man who poses with one copy of the big issues only yards from where the official Big Issue vendor stands, an elderly man who sits close to the ATM silently holding out his paper cup.  And here am I, on my way to prepare worship, to think fine thoughts in a warm, dry office.  I wonder what Jesus would do on my situation?

I was reminded of a verse of a hymn written by Alison Micklem when she was a student in Manchester, which reflects some of this tension:

As I pass you on the pavement

I avoid your stricken eyes;

Jesus tells me your my sister,

But you're hard to recognise.

I can love you in the abstract,

Face to face it's hard to do:

Jesus bids me love my neighbour,

Do I have to start with you?

It isn't so easy, is it, practising what we preach?  But then Jesus never said it would be.  I hope that my eyes will stay open enough to see what God needs to show me.



  • Hi
    I love the hymn, what's the rest of it, name of it, where is it available, and other such enquiries

    Hope you are settling in well

  • Hi Craig,
    good to hear from you.

    The hymn is in 'Encircling Prayer' a Partnership for Theological Education, Manchester (PTEM) in house publication (c) 2000

    The verse above is the first of three, the other two verses are:

    When you're painting your grafitti,
    When you're fighting in the street,
    There is such a rift between us,
    Is there ground where we could meet?
    I'm aware that your behaviour
    Is a cry straight from the heart;
    I would like to reach out to you
    But I don't know where to start.

    If I can't see Christ in others
    How will they see him in me?
    Can I follow his example,
    Living with humility?
    All my anxious fears and worries
    Are just barriers in my mind;
    When I learn to love my neighbour
    It is Jesus I will find.

  • Also love the hymn - even more, now you've included the rest of the words. (Just out of interest, I note that it is 87.87.D Trochaic, and there are loads of tunes in the BHB!)

  • Thank you for these words which I had never seen despite possessing the booklet.

    Our local Churches Together drop-in for homeless people has so far been in touch with 25 young men who are homeless but not recognised by the official statistics, some either sleeping rough or on friends' sofas. Demand for emergency food parcels from families falling on hard times has increased as well over the last year.

    But as you say, recognising the people behind all this seems to be the vital part of the equation. So it's a challenge when a gentleman starts sleeping in our church doorway and making us wonder whether we really believe all this nice stuff we talk about so much. But at least it makes us get real.

  • Thanks Bob, that's helpful - also BPW, R&S and others no doubt.

    Andy, do you have EP or EP2? It was in the former of these. Did they ever do EP3 or did they give up on publishing student stuff?!

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