September 2019

…is a sad commentary on the world we live in.  The idea we might do good for others and suffer as a result of helping them seems counter-intuitive, and yet it happens.  You only need to consider statistics for assaults on our  Emergency Services to know that.  Sometimes despite all our efforts to help our actions backfire on us, often spectacularly.  This is of course completely at odds with William Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ in which we are told  “How far that little candle throws his beams!  So shines a good deed for a weary world.”


Personally I’m with the Bard on this.  I think the good deeds we perform are akin to ripples in a pond.  They radiate outwards, interacting with other ripples.  If we have enough of them then all we can see are ripples, radiating out and interacting together ad infinitum.  That’s the kind of world I want to live in.  One where we act in the best interests of all, rather than for personal gain or our own feel good factor.


In Hebrews we are told ‘Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.’  If that is true then so is the converse.  I’m a firm believer we should treat others the way we expect to be treated, and I’d hate to treat an angel poorly, given they are God’s emissaries to the world.  Having worked in a bank…a long, long time ago…we used to get ‘Mystery Shoppers’ and woe betide us if our manager received a report citing poor service.  Perhaps the angels are God’s ‘Mystery Shoppers?’


My wife Karen and I often visit a particular coffee shop.  We do so not necessarily because the coffee or food are great (which of course they are) but because the staff recognise us and treat us well.  Sadly, they even know our orders before we ask…although Karen did once change her order and complete chaos ensued.  But before they knew and recognised us, they still treated us as if we mattered.  As if our business was important to them.  That’s the kind of business I want to frequent, where everyone is important whether they are known or not.


The point to all this is that a successful life, church or community require the same level of attention that a successful business does.  If we receive poor service we are unlikely to return.  If we are treated poorly by those we meet, we probably won’t want to build upon such relationships.  To be successful requires us to treat those we encounter as important to us. That’s how Jesus treated those he met.  It didn’t matter if they were the great and the good from Jewish society, or tax collectors, or sinners, or gentiles and foreigners.  All were worthy of his attention, his grace and love.  That’s a philosophy I try to follow.


Jesus came to change the world.  Arguably the ripples of his good deeds are still going strong, still interacting and radiating outwards.  Jesus’ teachings were for the world, not a select few.  Like the coffee shop Karen and I frequent, Jesus welcomes all whether that be the first encounter or the hundredth.  With Jesus you can always be assured of a warm welcome.  I hope we can emulate that.


In an ever changing world I pray we can all remember to let our lights shine for those around us in this weary world…Rev Paul