Last Tuesday's was the most chaotic night we've had in bible study at Zac's for a while - and also the most insightful.
We had four 'guests', men who are often there on Thursdays for coffee bar but not usually for the study. They were quite vocal and it looked as though Sean might struggle to get anything out of the evening. We continued our study of the book of Mark and the verses we read were the ones about the disciples arguing over who was the most important, where Jesus says, 'Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last and servant of all.'
Sean linked it with the verses in Matthew chapter 25:
'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit.'
'... whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.'
So I was feeling pretty righteous at this point: hey, I do some of that. And, what's more, one of the guests had recognised me. He said, 'I've seen you in prison. You're an angel.' (The glare you're getting from your screen is light bouncing off my halo.)
Then the same one, the 'friend' who recognised me, said, 'We're the lowest of the low, but I can still do the best thing for anybody. I can lead them to faith in Jesus.'
Well, you could have knocked me off my chair - if I'd been sitting on one - with a currant bun.
There were other words of wisdom being spoken too but I was too much in shock to recall them all. I don't know why I was surprised: the rough sleepers, odd bods and downright eccentric characters frequently astound me and bring me back to a sense of reality. What's real and true and important.
Our guests could turn on each other or someone else in an instant. One wrong word, one misunderstood look and it's a foul mouthful at best, violence at worst. But there's a camaraderie, a sense of looking-out-for-each-other, that is sadly too often lacking from most of 'civilised' society.
Tomorrow when he's out of his head on something, my 'friend' may seem to have forgotten who Jesus is but Jesus won't forget him. His name is engraved on the palm of God's hand.