It's not every church that can boast a congregant stinking of urine. But then it's not every church.
If there's one thing worse than leading bible study at Zac's when Sean's away it's leading the study when Sean's there. So it was a good job I wasn't leading a study but introducing the new series. We finally finished the gospel of Mark after about 8 months or maybe a year, no-one was sure, so we had a bit of feedback and then it was over to me.
I'd suggested that we do a short series looking at each of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus so I introduced it talking about lineage and ancestors, mentioning that even though I am descended from Lady Godiva ('that figures,' somebody - I couldn't find out who - said) and Boadicea I am neither a warrior princess nor do I ride around naked. Our ancestors may affect the situation or country into which we are born but they don't make us who we are.
I finished it by talking about fingerprints and reading a piece of prose - or maybe a poem - that I'd refound during my recent clear-out. It was written years ago by a man called Pip Wilson. I just googled the name and I think this is probably his blog. The point I wanted to make was that although I think it's important to read about and discuss Christ's forebears - and our own if we want - we're still unique individuals, 100% loved by God, and the poem says that.
I asked people to close their eyes while I read it and said there were plenty of copies if anyone wanted one after. One or two people asked for a copy and I thought that was that but when I looked at the end of the evening every copy had gone. Which is why I can't write it out here!
And most amazing of all, one man, an older man who's spent his lifetime in Christian work, an incredibly humble man of huge intellect, took a copy and said he'd like to use it the same way I'd done!
But that aside it was a strange mix of an evening with emotions running high. One woman will be seeing her partner buried tomorrow. In a pauper's grave. When Sean said that I was shocked. I didn't realise there was still such a thing. I suppose I imagined that everyone has someone who'd bury them. A stupid thing to think of course but then I hadn't really thought.
The word is almost more offensive word than the thing itself. Maybe that today we still have paupers is what is truly offensive. And, yes, for most they've come to it through choices they've made. One bad decision after another and a trap from which it's hard to escape. And my worst nightmare becomes their reality.
I've told you about Avril before. If anyone deserves some good fortune it's her but for whatever reason it's not coming her way, and she is struggling, fighting an enormous battle. When I was walking George today I was thanking God for the fantastically blessed life I have and asking that he could send a little of that blessing Avril's way. It wouldn't take much; just a miracle.