I wrote this poem sitting in ASDA, then a park followed by a busy shopping centre, all three locations in Peterborough. It’s a painful activity to people watch. I don’t mean in the sense of spotting what people are wearing or observing what they are buying from the comfort of a café arm-chair. I mean really watching people and asking yourself how they must be doing or looking for where people are hurting.
This poem inspired a national project called Saints on the Street (St.St.) The vision is to be among the vast majority of people who are not in a Church service on a Sunday morning. Once a month on a Sunday morning I welcome as many people who would dare to join me to church on the street. We connect with people in different ways and people now look out for us and make a point of asking for prayer or finding someone who would be willing to listen.
The hope is that St St may become a resource for the church in the UK to set aside Sundays in the year where the morning service is used to engage with people who wouldn’t consider going to Church. As the vast majority of people in the UK do not go to Church, St St projects takes Church to the vast majority.
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Sunday morning and two brothers struggle to keep up with their dad
They trot behind their marching hero, who is in urgent pace
Quickly up the aisle closer towards the beeping, busy check outs
A harsh word and now the young legs canter close behind
Despite their daddy being weighed down, burdened by two over large crates of caustic beer
His t-shirt declares ‘also available in sober.’
It feels like these aisles are a million miles away from the ones lined with hard wooden pews
or padded chairs, of kids songs and Jonah and the whale.
Sunday morning and multitudes scurry, locked out of the Sabbath celebrations
They are barred through their lack of know-how, know-what and when, hangover-yawns or
too busy, or can’t be bothered or, or, or
Irrelevancy cloaks the stone cold spacious sanctuaries
Of course they are welcome but the invitation goes un-said and any welcome is hidden away,
quiet and only hushed to those who already are in.
Sunday morning, people, people everywhere but not a quenching drink of the Spirit in sight
Sunday Sabbath day, shopping day, busy day, kids driving me up the wall day, chasm from
10.30 family service day
Yet, how will the sacred scarred healing hands reach out to those who are bereft of Messiah
comfort unless Saints meet
Face to face with the public, in public in the parks, shops or street?