Dear Inner Circle,

Our little chapel service this week looked more like a scene from Noah’s Ark as the rain bucketed down drenching everything in sight. Water was flowing so heavily down the street that it was pouring in under our doors. Over fifty people were crammed into the chapel for the service, their ages ranging from toddlers in gum boots through to an octogenarian. There was even a dog that sprinted all the way to the front of the chapel during the singing to add some interesting sounds to an old hymn for us. No one batted an eyelid. Before the service, our caring frontline crew had seized the initiative and opened the doors early to our visitors to provide towels, blankets, dry clothes and hot cups of tea to help them enjoy some respite from the misery of being soaked to the bone. After a night of sleeping rough in the incessant rain, nothing says ‘I love you’ like dry undies and socks.

We spent a lot of time in silence in our church service as we paused to be in solidarity with another congregation who had lost fifty of their community last Friday. The room was full of aching hearts as news of this tragedy seeped in. There is something quite unsettling when our concept of division breaks down through events like these. Just witness some of the media’s attempts to afford the perpetrator first their humanity and then try and decipher how it went wrong. Our desire to maintain a sense of “us and them” is strong but cannot hold up when the “them” looks like “us” and the “us” looks like “them”. Let us allow our aching hearts to lead the way home to a place where we mourn together as one. An aching heart is the hope for our world.

A lovely old fellow bravely stood up in front of a group of us who had gathered at the front of Wayside. He declared, “All of my life I have never lived in any place longer than about three months, I always get kicked out when I get angry. Next week, I will be celebrating living in the same place for two years!” I wish you could have seen the look of pride on his face. We all erupted in cheers and applause. No one succeeds alone or fails alone, successes are shared and celebrated. This same fellow had been reminding us for some time that his birthday was coming up and made sure that we were all clear that his favourite cake was chocolate. When his birthday rolled around, his face lit up as we sang him happy birthday and presented him with a chocolate cake. He punched the air with joy and then did his best to make sure everyone had some of his cake. When I offered him the last slice, he whispered “I don’t like chocolate cake”. I guess all the reminders were simply to say, “Don’t forget me!”. We never will.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Jon Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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