From a spiritual Saturday morning to the agony of the Sharks being robbed in their game that evening, to the sleep deprivation that turns me into an amalgam of a zombie and an incredible hulk, there was one respite: church on Sunday morning before sleep deprivation hit me full force.
Andy Hawthorne: if you’ve never listened to Andy Hawthorne, picture a Manchester native, with an accent as recognisable as Eliza Doolittle. For the duration of the service, I forgot about the lack of sleep and the heartrending loss of the Sharks because it got real.
Andy founded the Message Trust, an organisation that sends out ‘Eden Teams’, volunteer Christians who move to a messed up part of town and form a beachhead from which the Message can go out. I was simultaneously challenged about my own parochialism and selfishness as well as inspired to think that in some small way, I could do something to make a difference.
Andy related the experiences of his team, and recounted what happened to ‘his mate Dave’, who prayed for a drug addict on the streets of Vancouver who had just died, but who then revived/resurrected.
Do resurrections happen on the dodgy streets of Vancouver these days? Andy says that it did.
Never having personally witnessed a resurrection, I find it difficult to believe every report of the miraculous because I know that some people exaggerate sometimes or make stuff up. Not that I suspected Andy or Dave of being economical with the truth, but I want a couple of witnesses or corroboration.
I have no problem believing that the miraculous did happen: there is a certain empty grave in Jerusalem.
I have no problem believing that death is not a cul-de-sac where God is concerned; I like God’s question to Ezekial:
“The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! ” (Ezekial 37: 1 – 4, NIV)
Short answer: the dry bones live!
It occurs to me a few days after Andy’s sermon, that I may not see bodily resurrections a lot, but have witnessed a more profound sea-change: the saving of a soul. And Andy brought it back to the winter of 1910, and William Booth’s final year.
Booth founded the Salvation Army – which is still around today – and when asked for a word of encouragement he sent a telegram to a gathering because he couldn’t be there himself. I suppose telegrams are expensive, so he sent a one word message: “O-T-H-E-R-S”.
Thank heaven the world doesn’t revolve around me. It’s about others. That is the reason for us, the reason for the church, the reason for a Salvation Army that marches on.