We used to have a set of books, no words, just coloured drawings. Each page was like a dolls house, in that you could see inside the rooms of factories, or an airport, or a garage. Everywhere there was activity, lots to see and talk about as the kids were growing up. Not unlike the Where’s Wally books, though not so as crowded.
Staring out the kitchen window while the tea is brewing in the pot, particularly at the beginning of the morning, is like a video of one of those books. Neville Ave turns into a car park, with people arriving, spilling out onto the pavement, and heading off away from the vicarage in the direction of the school. A young boy carrying his bags, while his dad dawdles behind, not keeping up because he’s tapping away on his phone. Another dad carrying all his daughter’s bags and musical instrument while she walks beside him. A lady with a pack of kids around her, and a dog on a lead. Each one tells a story.
Mesmerising, the amount of life that goes on around us. Can’t take it all in. It’s like a tide. Can be amazing, inspiring, or quite frightening.
I guess a lot of this passed Jesus by, but I don’t think he missed anything. Some things he drew attention to. The lady putting a penny into the collection box, which was worth more than the copious spare cash he’d seen dropped in there by others. The guy with his head bowed, mumbling ‘have mercy on me, a sinner,’ which was setting off all the celebration alarm bells in heaven, while the man making long and eloquent prayers out loud went unnoticed up there.
Jesus got noticed – a bit like a strong magnet drawing iron filings. People came without realising why, but were drawn, those who came to follow, those who came to hate him. He interrupted the flow of everyday life.
The cross is planted in history. The fruit of the cross, the resurrection life, permeates the present. Like Billy used to say so bluntly, there has to be new birth. It has to come from God.
It can appear where you don’t expect it. It can be absent where it is thought to be.