5 02 2009

At the end of a one-to-one meeting today, when I was feeling especially enthusiastic about how it had gone and really wanted to celebrate the other person’s work, I asked if I might say a prayer. They declined.

I don’t mind saying it pulled me up short. It was not their reaction. It was the feeling I had that I had been a poor guest. It assumes an awful lot to imagine that someone will want to join a moment of celebration with you in your way.

It got me thinking again, that for all my fine words about mission being about being with people in their space, I’m still caught up in ‘Christendom’ ways of thinking. I’m still unconsciously expecting people to join my party. I’m still operating as if I’m the host.

When Jesus sent out his followers he didn’t send them as hosts but as guests. They weren’t to impose on their hosts, but bring a greeting of peace and receive whatever opportunities they were offered.

I need to remember that in each place I go, whether public or private space, I am still someone’s guest. I have been conscious of that actually as I’ve gone into the pub. I have approached groups of people sat at a table or near the bar. I am entering their social space. I have felt a little reticent. But as I think about that story from the gospel of Luke, I am reminded that those first missionaries were sent to look for hosts who would welcome them. That is perhaps like what I’ve been doing. I have given people the opportunity to offer me hospitality. Mostly so far it has been offered. Where it has not, I have drawn back.

I haven’t quite shaken the dust from my sandals. Partly because if I was wearing sandals (especially with socks) I would look like people think Christians are supposed to look. And partly because that seems awfully final. I can’t quite believe God is saving some especially awful fate for people who don’t want some trendy vicar interrupting their quiet lunch/pint. I think I might tell me to sod off. Thankfully though, so far, most people have been better hosts than I’ve been a guest.

Peace be upon this (public) house.