23 May 2008

A Hungry Woman

I was at a conference with a bunch of people who love the Church, who love the ideal of authentic biblical community, who earnestly desire to read the Bible as one story and get it right, that bit about the kingdom and the church and eating together.

Anyway, it can all get to be a bit much sometimes and my head gets fuzzy and my heart gets full . . . so I took a walk at lunchtime. I just up and left the people I was sitting with, not knowing how long it might take them to decide where to eat, and I headed for Queens St.

Well, I headed in that direction, downhill, but I didn't know for sure I was going to Queens St until I arrived there, still hungry.

So I went in to a favourite Middle Eastern place there, ordered a lamb kebab and watched people. There were some students there from Pennsylvania. The girls are on an exchange programme from Loyola and are involved in service projects while in NZ.

I got my kebab and went outside, found a nice wooden bench at a major intersection and started chewing. I was approached by a homeless man, two evangelists and a hungry woman all in a matter of about 15 minutes.

My conversation with the man was all too brief. I did not engage him in conversation at all, my head too full of church talk to be church to him.

Then the lady evangelists came along and wanted me to take a test to prove I was a sinner.
I just confessed without bothering with the test, but then I think I tested them a bit.

I challenged them that there are other ways to approach the whole salvation conversation. While not avoiding sin at all, we can approach the heart of the matter by bringing heart into the conversation. What about God's design for each individual? What about His love for them as a person and His desire for them to be healthy and whole? I'm not in to the mamby pamby gospel that makes it all about me, or you, or anyone other than God, but the character and nature of the God I know is not all about showing me how much of a failure I am. That smacks of the law and I'm so over that!

Anyway, the younger one took it well, even when she asked where I went to church and I countered with, "Oh, is a place to go to or is it a community of faith influencing the world?"
Poor thing. She was a good sport though.

Then, last but by no means least, came the hungry lady.

She asked me for 50 cents, holding out her hand and showing me the coins accumulated thus far. She was very polite and non-threatening. I was at a disadvantage with my hands full of my lunch.

I answered her question with a question as my dad so aptly taught me to do, "What do you want?"

She answered, looking me in the eye, "A hot dog. I want a hot dog."
She knew exactly what she wanted. Not 50 cents at all, but a hot dog.

I was impressed. I respect her approach to life. She knows what she wants. Up we got and went to the nearby hot dog retailer and got a hot dog, or two. We had a little chat, as you do, nothing deep and earth shattering, but friendly and respectful.

I went back to my corner and then made my way up the hill, back to my church conference.
I don't know where she went from there, but for the time being, she had what she wanted.

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