I often find being a priest in the Church of England requires you to be open to the unexpected. Over the last few years I have had a number of unusual and extraordinary encounters. Interestingly a number of these have come when I am feeling weak and not at my best.
Today was one such day.
Today was a day that I did not feel ‘together’ for a number of reasons.
I usually always feel a fraud as a priest; but today was a day that I felt it more than usual.
This day was a day when I was not feeling particularly ‘priestly’ or useable by God or of any use to anyone. Things did not seem to be in the right place.
It’s fair to say that I started my day on auto-pilot and was just sticking to my timetable.
This morning I arrived and left my first school that I am chaplain of as normal. This school is next to a major building site. The size of building site where workers are permanently in place to divert or stop pedestrians and traffic. As I was walking past the entrance to the building site the worker standing the gate asked if I was a pastor.
Now as I always where my dog collar when ‘on duty’ I think it is pretty obvious that I am a ‘pastor’ and often I make some semi sarcastic joke like, ‘No … actually I’m on my way to a fancy dress party …. ‘
Today I did not make a sarcastic quip.
Today I could see in this man’s eye’s a seriousness. A deepness.
He held my hand … for longer than feels acceptable … and he kept holding it as he asked me to pray for him for a variety of stuff.
So … there … on the street …. holding hands with this guy … I prayed … and … then …. he blessed me.
It was such a gracious and powerful moment and I don’t mind admitting I was moved to tears as I wandered on my way to the bus stop to get to my next school.
On the bus I reflected and wondered …. why …. why is it that when I feel at our worst … that it is then that I see God doing something …
I spoke to some people later who said I must have been in the right place at the right time to help this guy.
Actually …. I think this man was in the right place, and at the right time, to help me. That’s pretty cool.
Sometimes it is a real privilege to do what I do.