With Sean away, Steve was in the hot seat at Zac's last night. I found myself a place on the back row and watched with growing delight as the evening progressed: every 'eccentric' that has ever been in Zac's turned up. It was chaos. But Steve coped brilliantly. (I say 'growing delight' not out of a sense of mean spirit but simply that it wasn't me in the seat!) (Well, maybe a bit of tee-hee-ing.)
We were continuing with the first letter of Peter and we were looking at the bit where it says get on with everyone and live in harmony with each other. Steve asked what the word harmony meant to us and that was where the trouble started ...
We had our resident homeless alcoholic 'peeing on the lamp-post', marking his territory simply because the homeless Irish 'Catlic' dared to open his mouth; we had arguments about peace and tolerance; we had God cast as Big Brother and us as puppets when we could get on better by thinking positively; we had the grieving man whose only family was the guy with whom he lived on the streets; and we had our amiable-except-when-he-has-a-knife regular who has a habit of chatting with imaginary friends. Oh it was fun.
Steve dealt calmly, pleasantly and respectfully with each and every one - when he could make himself heard - but I think it was with a sense of relief that he prayed the closing prayer.
But after what some Christians would consider the important serious bit of bible study, when, in-between cutting cake and making coffee, I looked around the room I could see the real heart of Zac's, of God, at work.
Now there was a quiet buzz. The aggressively-warring factions were apologising to each other; the verbose agnostic was listening to a quietly-spoken Scottish gentleman; the mourner was deep in conversation with a gentle female Anglican; the young Korean missionary-in-training was strengthening his developing friendship with the young lost-soul middle eastern lad; food parcels were being handed out; and one of our rough sleepers was being provided again with a blanket and warm coat.
Harmony reigned. This is what it is about. It was one of the best evenings at Zac's for a long time.