Mother’s Milk, MacIntyre Coffee, New Row Coffee, God Word that Keeps Us from Falling
Some weeks, the weight and yet otherness of people’s existence presses insistently upon one’s own consciousness – exciting it, almost overwhelming it. A disjointed account follows:
Met a bunch of coffee folk from Malaysia at Mother’s Milk Coffee (12 Little Portland Street, London, W1W 8BJ). We chatted about the scene in Kuala Lumpur and in Singapore – current state and future plans. I tried to explain what I was doing in London and why I was reading a book on sex. A strange otherness. Meanwhile, the boys attempted some form of continuous pour latte art. That’s the sort of place Mother’s Milk is – small, cosy, informal, with self-deprecation by the milk jug-ful, serving Kaffee Kommune‘s Odyssee Espresso (70% Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Worka, 30% Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Adado) like a blueberry burst.
The interior of MacIntyre Coffee (facebook, 13-21 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6NL) was an exercise in practical plywood simplicity. Ceremony Coffee, I think, but was too busy reading to remember. :-(. Grabbed a few whisky bottles of Sandow’s Cold Brew Coffee Guatemalan savoury goodness (very Brand’s chicken essence-y!) for friends at the upcoming sunny weekend away. Regulars came and gave updates on how their days were going. The otherness of lives shared, yet not quite.
Made surprisingly fast friends with some of the other attendees at the Oakhill Theological College Open House – long chats about life with God as we walked the grounds and had lunch in the canteen before they gave me a lift to town. Read in New Row Coffee (24 New Row, London, WC2N 4LA) before going to dinner with some folk from Word Alive 2014 who were down from the north for a conference. We talked about the situation in Beijing and Shanghai, how the statistics of Christian growth in China did not and could not show the numbers who though claiming faith, had no concept of the gospel, nor others who, for lack of good teaching, had started to put their trust in everything other than Jesus.
One person at the hotpot dinner was going out to a Chinese city, fairly sure that she would not see her loved ones in this life again, but trusting that her priority must be God’s priority – the glorification of his Son Jesus and the growth of Jesus’ kingdom. For her, there was neither the cowardice of hiding behind familial excuses, nor the blind fanaticism of youth, but a cool weighing of costs, and a considering that there is nothing more important in this world than to do God’s will by teaching his Word to people to convict them of the truth and keep them safe.
What strange dissonance too in having a brother round for a meal before he left for a country in Africa, both of us aware that he might soon be an article in the Barnabas Fund newsletter. How strange to lope across London Bridge with Curate, chattering on about mundane things, yet realising the ultimate futility of placing any value on the things of the world as the setting sun brought us a day closer to the inevitable persecution that must accompany the proclamation of gospel (see the Book of Acts, amongst others) and also the day of Christ’s return (see 2 Peter, also amongst many other books in the Bible!).
In the meantime, there is the weight of the fallenness of this world: being told how a brother in Singapore was caught scheming to commit adultery; one day, being at Fabrique Bakery (Arch 385, Geffrye Street, Hoxton) with a friend, feeling the weight of my mate’s depression brought on by burden of responsibility trying to help victims of atrocities that might not even have made the news anywhere – the helplessness of a human trying to play God. The weirdness of sharing the last bits of a very excellent cinnamon bun while talking about this. And just a fortnight ago, consoling someone whose best friend and beloved grandfather were both diagnosed with cancer just before her exams, and urging her not, in her distress, to distrust that God is both in control, and good and loving.
Read Romans with two different people on successive Sundays, as we sat in the sunshine at Peloton & Co Cycle Cafe, persuading them from Scripture of God’s sovereignty, and exhorting them to honour God by letting God be God; not presuming that we knew better than he, praying that they would not fall. Then today, one of them met with a bad accident at work. Oh Father, will she remember your promises and not stumble.
After dinner last night, two housemates and I were discussing the so-called evangelical emphasis on Scripture. The people who scoff at this as academic and only for the intellectuals should be locked up as traitors. What unspeakable sabotage is performed when sheep are dissuaded or prevented from hearing the voice of their Shepherd and so wander off cliffs or fall prey to wolves. How deceitful to encourage these vulnerable ones to stumble about in darkness by withholding God’s word that God meant as a lamp to their feet and a light to their paths.