The Fourth Sunday after The Epiphany

I am sitting at home not wanting the phone to ring. I don’t want to ‘go to work’. What is wrong
with me? “Don’t you want to share the love of Jesus, George?!” Well … it is true that I believe
Jesus says ‘I love you’ as his opening message to us, reflecting his heart toward us, and that
God does indeed love us all. It’s just that, at times, I find it hard to communicate this when
other people are going through ‘hell’ or something tragic, painful, messy, abusive, violent –
you get the picture. And yes, you’ve probably
guessed it, I am writing this on ‘hospital call’ in case
anyone wants a chaplain. (I offer to do a shift or two
per month.)
Of course I will go if called. And yes, I will try to do my
best in the circumstance for the people I encounter
because I do want people to know that Jesus can
help and support them – no matter their situation
(sometimes a hospital situation can be the result of
destructive behaviour, self inflicted, so to speak –

though even then there are always other issues in-
volved). It is just that it is hard to provide care for peo-
ple who want me to produce ‘genie Jesus’ to ‘magic’

the problem away. I can only help them with the ‘real Jesus’ not the fabrication of their imagi-
nation or a false hope. Of course there are times when I meet people who know Jesus and

his scars and his cross and know that he is still with them and perhaps they want assurance

– often God’s Word and prayer – or simply a ‘presence’ with them. So I go into another per-
son’s world – wanting to be respectful of them, loving towards them, and true to Jesus for

them. It is special work, a privilege to be sure – but often hard too.
So there’s a part of me that doesn’t want the phone to ring. The paramedic or fire brigade or
police or even a solicitor can know quickly why they are called and they can quickly work out
what to do. So does the butcher and barista. Part of my world is that people may not know

why exactly they want a ‘God person’ around. Another part of my world is the anger and re-
jection people have towards God (or themselves) which may be directed towards me – I’ve

learnt long ago that it isn’t personal – especially when tragedy or evil has been done to them
by others and so God is blamed for not ‘stopping’ the ‘bad thing’ (the attack, the suicide, the
violence, the injustice) but they would not want God to intervene and ‘stop’ them from their
behaviour (and being angry with God). But that moment isn’t usually the place to point this
I take comfort that Jesus didn’t want to drink his cup of suffering. Not that I’m Jesus or that
I’m saving people but that he didn’t want to do something, for a moment, is a comfort for me –
who doesn’t want to go to hospital and make it worse for someone. But if the phone should
ring, I expect I’ll grin, after having written this, and imagine God chuckling (I do that a lot) and
then ‘gulp a prayer’ and go knowing that Jesus is with me. In fact that’s one way of describing
being a Christian – responding to the moment with Jesus so that you don’t make matters
worse. Have a good week!