October 6, 2022
by Jacky Bramma
October 6, 2022
by Jacky Bramma
It never fails to amaze me how seemingly “coincidental” encounters with people turn out to be anything but random, and in retrospect I can clearly God’s hand at work.
Quite recently, for example, Sheila Robson and I were tending the garden as usual one Saturday morning, when a woman who happened to be walking by started chatting. After admiring the bounty of the garden, she suddenly asked, “Do you give out Bibles?” She explained that both she and her son, who has mental health problems, wanted one. We were delighted to be able to give her a couple of the Bibles from the board room and invited her and her son to come to church for the “Welcome” service and barbecue on September 18. Whether or not they came, I don’t know, but it was a blessing just to be able to give the invitation. I look upon this as an instance of “reverse evangelism”: all we had to do was be there ready to respond. There was no need for us to go looking because she found us. This was only possible because we happened to be in the garden just at the right time, and because the harvest was plentiful. Coincidence? I don’t believe it was.
I often notice this most keenly when I am away from home and travelling alone. Shortly after my husband died, I was on a flight to Vancouver to visit my sister (oh, how simple it was in those pre-Covid days!) and happened to see a copy of The Shack, which we had just done a study on at All Saints’, in my seat mate’s bag. This was the starting point of a delightful conversation about our faith, and I couldn’t believe how quickly the time passed. We parted at the terminal, knowing we would never see each other again, but all the richer for the six hours we had spent chatting.
On another journey, I had time between flights at Gatwick airport and decided to find the chapel. I happened to get there just as a short service was about to start, led by a Salvation Army chaplain. There was one other person there, a young man who was also waiting for his flight. After the service we sat and shared our stories, then parted company to continue our journeys. In addition to being a lovely way to pass the time, I realized afterwards that God was reassuring me of his presence even, or perhaps especially, when I am in unfamiliar surroundings. Often when I am away from home and my church family, I feel disconnected, and yearn to make connections with other Christians.
More recently when on a holiday in the UK, I was really feeling the need for Christian connection and quite by chance, a man who had just moved to the town, joined a small group of us who were taking a walking tour of Minehead in Somerset. Once again, we struck up a meaningful conversation, and I received the “top up” I needed. This time he invited me to his church. By that time, I would have left for our next destination, but I appreciated the invitation.
These are but a few of the many instances where God has placed people in my path, and I am sure that my experience is not unique. I am so thankful for these “glimpses of God”, which remind me how much he loves me and cares for me. That certainly is no coincidence!
Look at me and help me! I’m all alone. (Psalm 26:16, The Message)
Feeling Alone, a prayer card from Exeter Cathedral (explorechristianity.info)
GOD, I AM FEELING VERY ALONE RIGHT NOW.
EVEN WHEN PEOPLE ARE AROUND ME.
SOMETIMES I FEEL AFRAID.
SOMETIMES I FEEL WORTHLESS.
PLEASE HELP ME TO KNOW I MATTER TO YOU.
HELP ME TO FEEL YOU NEAR ME.
SHOW ME HOW TO CONNECT MORE DEEPLY WITH OTHERS,
AND FIND NEW COMFORT AND HOPE. Amen
Quiet and Contemplative
Shorter Contemporary Seeker-Oriented
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All Saints’ is a 2SLGBTQQIA+ affirming parish.