Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. – John 8:7
I’ve been trying to figure out what to write for the last few days, and had begun slowly drafting a piece on the various distractions of the world and remembering to be present. But it wasn’t coming together as my posts normally do. I was having a bit of a writing block. But today I moved onto a completely new post to reflect on what happened this afternoon as I was shopping in Denton.
I heard a man yell out and as I turned round about 100m away four men were dragging him to the ground and holding him to the floor. One of them put his foot on his face for a few moments to make a point that he was not to move. He struggled though, and in clear distress was shouting that he’d walk with them if they let him up, he just wanted them to stop hurting him. He shouted out that they were hurting his arms and he was nearly in tears. I’d already noticed the stolen merchandise scattered on the floor around him. But this was not my focus point. My focus point was the man, clearly in distress and in need of a friend.
We read in John 8:1-11 of a group of people prepared to stone a woman caught having an affair. Jesus pauses for a moment as they throw questions at him, until he silences them, saying, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
A crowd gathered in front of me blocking my view. I’d gone shopping with my grandmother and she was walking away, asking me to go with her, but I couldn’t. I needed someone to support him. I turned back to see if I could spot him again through the crowd and the heaviness in my heart in part lifted as I saw that the security guards had stepped off him and were stood by him as a passer had crouched down and was hugging him. My desperate need to help and my visualisations of asking the arrived police if as an aspiring priest I could give him counsel began to fade as I saw that he had some support.
It really affected me though. And why did so many people stand around watching, talking about how he had stolen and had it coming to him? Is it not normal to see the best in people? As I saw the distressed man I thought of all the possible situations he could be in. He could have had a bad life and not know another way. He could have fallen in love with a drug-addict and is trying desperately to make money to help her, or him, to cope. So many possible situations of pain for him came to my mind. Am I not normal here? Is it not normal to seek the best in people and try and make connections with everyone? Is it not normal to forgive?
I know I have my own preconceptions of some “groups” of people but it always makes me very sad if I am judging someone and I recognise it and hope to do better. If I see that I was judging someone when I should have tried to support them and help them and heal them I am filled with sorrow, but with these people when I try to help or be kind my action is almost always replied with malice and contempt and I don’t know what to do then.
But I try. All we can do is our best. I am endeavouring to become a better person and to always be Growing Up With God, no matter how old I become or how many books I read and how many sermons I give. I want to always be growing and becoming better. Becoming more present to life and to the lives of my brothers and sisters. Are you?
Today makes it four years since I began attending services in the Anglican Church of England. It has had its difficult times, and I have met difficult people, and I have wished that the Church was a more forgiving and inclusive place. It should be better. But so should we all. It is a part of our helpless humanity to fail. We “sin” – we fail. We make mistakes. But the Church and the rest of the world also has so many shining examples of kindness and compassion. I want to be a priest in the Anglican Church one day and help people see the love of God. I have thought often that perhaps prison chaplaincy might be a way for me to work in the Church. I am not prepared to enter the Church yet for I do not know what exactly God is calling me to do. I know I am called to be a priest in this world, but I do not know how I am to be a priest, in what role, or where, or when, and I know I need more time in the Church living a Christian Church-going life before I head for ordination. I have a conference this weekend which I am really looking forward to, and your prayers for guidance would be appreciated.
I think a major ethic in Jesus’ life was one of forgiveness. If we read the Gospels then we see that he forgave much, but was angered by and in a way ignored the pious. And not just the religiously pious, but the snobbish and selfish self-interested. If (and I hope I do) get ordained, I won’t be on a pedestal above other people. I will be completely dedicating my life to helping others to connect with God, each other and themselves. I hope to be like Jesus, not pious, but a platform for conversation, for communion.
I’d like to recommend Never Let Me Go to all of you. My song of the week is We All Complete by Rachel Portman from the soundtrack. The following clip is the final scene of the film, so if you do not want to watch it before seeing the film, I highly recommend it, and you can view the trailer here, and buy it from amazon here for just £3. It has much to say.