Having decided some months ago not to ‘do church’ anymore we as a family have found ourselves facing the previously alien concept of free time on a Sunday morning. This has opened up endless opportunities for us which, up until then, had been denied by the traditional 11:00 a.m. service – actually resting on the Sabbath as opposed to running about from one religious appointment to the next; spending time with God (normally a hit and miss experience at Sunday services this last year or so); and dare I say it enjoying ourselves (definitely a 100% miss).
Today was no exception. I am a keen runner (regular followers of this blog will grow to hate these words). And in an effort to spend some ‘quality family time’ (three of the most patronising words in the English language when arranged in that order) I encouraged (dragged) our son and youngest daughter to a junior running event in our local park. My wife and eldest daughter knew better and wisely stayed at home.
Once the lycra fest was over we stopped at the supermarket on our way home to pick up some groceries. And armed with the necessities of life (Diet Coke, sausages and toilet paper – in that order) I stood in the queue waiting my turn to pay. In front of me a dear old lady battled to gather up various purchases in her arms. As I gallantly stood by and did nothing the shop assistant helpfully enquired ‘Would you like to put them in a bag?’
Quick as a flash the plucky pensioner shot back ‘I need a bag but I’m not willing to pay for one’. In Northern Ireland (where we live) legislation was introduced in 2014 placing a five pence charge on plastic shopping bags. To help save the environment….or something like that.
Many (myself included) have struggled with this outrageous and draconian dictat ever since. I mean five pence! That’s like 1/20th of a pound. I’ll happily fork out £4.95 for a running magazine and £24 for a gallon tub of honeycomb ice cream. But five pence? For a plastic bag?! It’s a bridge too far. I’d much rather flounce out of the shop tripping over dropped milk cartons and smashed eggs than suffer the ignominy of such an ridiculous surcharge.
Which is exactly what this heroic old lady did….
Thankfully the assistance of my daughter (four arms good, two arms bad) meant I didn’t have to face the question that invariably causes me to break out in a cold sweat – ‘Would you like a bag sir?’
On the drive home the morning got even more eventful when we passed the scene of a road traffic collision. We stopped to offer assistance but thankfully nobody was badly hurt. My son got to pretend to be a police officer for a while directing traffic until the real police officers arrived.
It got me thinking though. About the man who thankfully crawled away unscathed from his overturned car. And the old lady back at the shop. Life is so fragile. One minute we can be happily sauntering along with not a worry for the future. And the next that future could be gone. A road traffic collision. A terminal illness. Just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The variables are incalculable. The one constant is that death awaits us all one day. And it might be a lot sooner than we think.
That’s the grim news. The good news is that we do have an input. Not usually as to when it will happen but rather what will happen afterwards. To the Christian, death is just the beginning. Life is just the aperitif before the main course. The warm up before the race begins in earnest.
We have a choice. And that choice is Jesus. Who came to earth and died a violent death on a wooden torture instrument reserved for the basest criminal. An agonising, humiliating, dirty death. For us. To cleanse us of our past, present and future sins in order to allow us access to the greatest gift of all. Eternal life.
And the price? Five million pounds? Five hundred pounds? Five pence? No it costs us nothing. All we have to do is say yes and embrace him as our Lord and Saviour.
Yet so many of us still say no. We need it but are still not willing to give up our material, sinful lives. And like the bag lady we stagger along, laden down with our false idols, our guilt and our secrets.
My prayer as I write this is that if you haven’t already done so say yes. To Jesus. To a new life. And if you do I’ll happily give you five pence the next time I see you….
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. JOHN 10:28.
How did you spend your Sunday?
Do you still ‘do church’ on a Sunday? Or worship in a different way?
Have you said yes to Jesus? Tell us about your experiences.