4th Sunday of the Year Year B

The dog was baying at the front door a little while ago and when I looked at what was disturbing him, there was a man standing at the door. He looked very shabby and was carrying an Asda plastic bag which had long passed its sell by date. Cynically, as I answered the door, I expected a bit of banter and a request for money so the man could visit a sick member of his family/catch a boat to Ireland to attend a family funeral or any number of stories I hear on the doorstep.

To be fair, the guy was nice to my dog, and that is always a good start.

He turned out, not to be asking for money but he was selling “tracts”, little pamphlets of scriptural quotes and their interpretation. Like the Asda bag, these had seen much better days and had clearly done the rounds.

I asked the man whether he was affiliated to a church but his reply was a little more long winded than a simple yes or no. He said that he was a Prophet and for many years had walked the streets of many a city proclaiming his version of the Word of the Lord! You see these people in places like Chester, urban preachers with a determination to be heard.

He said that he had met such opposition that he had “lost the word” and now felt that selling his tracts was the best he could do.

I felt really sorry for this man, who clearly was broken by his life’s experience, whatever that was, but equally still saw the need to continue to be the person he felt God wanted him to be.

John Dear, in his book, The Beatitudes of Peace, says that “our warlike culture takes offence and dismisses the prophet, not merely as an agitator but as obsessed and unbalanced”. Clearly that was this man’s understanding of day to day life. So sad!

I thanked him for the offer of a tract and gave him £5. He took it gratefully and stood with his head bowed for quite a moment and then said to me, sort of quoting scripture, “I see you are a good man, go and sin no more”.

That unnerved me. Perhaps I did meet a prophet that day!!

Just a thought!