Is it just 10 days ago that I posted, on my return from On Fire, that the greatest joy of being there was being with a community who were eager and expectant for God to act?
That's a rhetorical question actually. I know perfectly well how long ago it was - but I'm asking myself the question because I'm both amused and rather ashamed of myself.
Last night, you see, our Later@CoventryCathedral service included anointing - and the Dean, who has just returned from the Holy Land, prayed rather beautifully that we might not only tread in the footsteps of Jesus, but see with his eyes, touch with his hands, love with his heart.
It was powerful stuff that had me rocking on my feet (very glad he restrained me: the marble floor of Coventry Cathedral is not one to fall on with not a catcher in sight, I can tell you). I went to sit down feeling rather full of joy and delight. I enjoyed the rest of the worship, caught up with some lovely people and giggled quietly to myself at the way in which God has persuaded me that the service which I viewed with most anxiety before I arrived at Coventry could become one of my greatest sources of refreshment here. As I introduced it yesterday, I had commented that Later always has rather the flavour of a family service - in which anything might happen, and frequently does. (It was at this service that someone once arrived wearing an umbrella and nothing else)...Before I came, I'd expected to loathe it - but have happily adopted it, together with the wonderful mix of people (normally fully-clad) who come week by week.
All of which should, perhaps, have prepared me for God to get up to something - but being rather dim, I left the Cathedral expecting to head quietly home.
That was before I saw the man lying on the pavement in Bayley Lane...
What unfolded next was both really sad and rather amazing.
Of course we stopped, tried to find out what had happened (trying hard not to draw too many conclusions from the beer can lying beside him), phoned an ambulance, tried to make him comfortable on the pavement...
We were joined by 2 lovely girls, dressed for a night out - but one a trained first-aider, the other a dental nurse...both of whom delighted N., as he swam in and out of consciousness, by their youth, their beauty and their kindness.
Seeing my collar, he grabbed my hand in both his and kept apologising profusely for letting everyone down, as he told me a little of the struggles that made each day bearable only with the help of more alcohol than is ever wise.
Feeling that intense grasp of my hand - the hand that had so recently been anointed in the clean and orderly world of the cathedral, something happened to my heart. The two worlds collided, and I knew that right now the Dean's blessing was coming to life. All rather overwhelming, really - but so absolutely steeped in the presence of God that it was hard to know what to do, except kneel there and keep on loving.
Please pray for N, and for those like him who find life too painful to bear.
And feel free to remind me, as kindly as you can manage, that God ACTS....