Visitors, Love, Servanthood
This last month has seen a constant stream of overseas visitors, and therefore, more eating out at restaurants than the whole of the rest of the year put together.
Hawksmoor (11 Langley Street, London WC2H 9JG) – Doddington caesar salad, bone marrow with onions, rib-eye, triple cooked fries, sticky toffee pudding, raspberry & buttermilk panna cotta.
Elliot’s Café (facebook; 12 Stoney St, Borough Market, London SE1 9AD) – small plates for sharing: crispy pork belly salad, mussels, squid, charcuterie, lamb sweetbread, maris piper fries. Beers from The Kernel Brewery and Camden Town Brewery.
We rolled out of Elliot’s to find a passing troupe of accordian-and-guitar players and behind them, B.O.B’s Lobsters’ striking red-and-white VW Camper. The lobster claws, served cold in a freshly toasted hotdog bun, were delicious. There were beach chairs for lounging next to the pop-up, and a lemonade man in attendance.
Visitors’ questions about what the last 9 months has gestated has forced me to consider how to explain all that has happened, in pithy summary.
1. more acute awareness of my own depravity and sin;
2. and therefore, realising the greater enormity of God’s grace in sending his Son to die for us;
3. the great privilege of dealing with one’s sin within a loving and gracious community. While no one can accuse them of shirking from pointing out one another’s sins, they also offer patient practical help in dealing with these sins. And there is little-to-no backroom chatter about any one, no being polite to a person but grumbling or bitching about them behind their back to people in the inner circle(s).
Here are some brothers whom I love, in their evangelical checked shirts, attempting to assess the height improving benefits of having hair on the top of one’s head.When they’re not larking around, or singing gustily into people’s ears, or writing books which everyone else thinks are great but contain bits that their own might gently yet strongly disagree with, they are good models of how to love people within God’s family. We’ve had heated arguments (about theology and the practical implications thereof, if you must know) and there’ve been tears, but then heartfelt apologies and lots of kindness after, and on to less heated arguments…;
4. Ephesians tells us that the role of the pastor teacher is to equip the saints (biblically, this means normal Christians, not people with halos over their heads) for works of service, for the building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). And so the start of the latest series on John on Sunday mornings have been very useful for a certain dilemma, nay trilemma, I faced yesterday. It should not have been a trilemma of course – (1) I’d triple-booked Sunday afternoon for visiting a lady in her 80s who’d been ill for some time, watching the Wimbledon tennis men’s final between Djokovic and Murray, and playing frisbee in the summer sunshine; (2) obvs visiting the sick should have been the no-brainer priority but I had to have a good hard wrestle with selfishness first.
John 13:1-30 and John 13:31-14:4 were helpful. Was I saying that my time was more valuable than Jesus’? Was I thinking that my enjoyment was more important than comforting God’s people? Servanthood should not be any less than footwashing, in fact, it should be to the point of death – because a servant is not greater than his master. And this wasn’t even anywhere near loving others to the point of death and yet I baulked? etc.
So off I went. Said the dear lady as we kissed in greeting,”My dear, the tennis is on at 2. I hope you don’t mind if we watch the game”, and we spent an absolutely fun afternoon eating tuna melts, drinking tea and nibbling on fondant fancies, cheering on Murray (“I’ve prayed that the best man would win, but Lord, I wouldn’t mind if he was British”), and speaking to the telly as if the players would be able to hear us (“Andy, you silly boy, get on with it. Don’t make me come down there and smack you”). Happy times.