Kate Bradford, one of our Chaplains told me recently of an encounter with an amazing woman of God.
Any chaplain in the health or correctional system becomes aware of patients and inmates who follow Jesus. Such people serve to assure the chaplain that their chaplaincy work is not isolated but connected intimately with the wider Christian community. As these people share in Christ with the chaplain they also share in the suffering and isolation that comes from being a patient or inmate. Many unselfconsciously share Jesus and the hope they have in him when alongside those around them wherever they are.
Clara is one of these people. Clara is in her early nineties. She has been widowed for nearly 40 years. She continues to live independently in her own home, is an active member of her local church, and regularly connects with her busy adult family. For many years Clara visited prisons and supported the families of prisoners. Clara attends a regular outpatient clinic at Prince of Wales Hospital to receive intensive therapy to strengthen her muscles that support her collapsing spine.
Clara and her therapist were chatting as she went through her painful exercises. She noticed the therapist look Mediterranean, and asked him if he was born overseas or in Australia. He replied that his family was from the Middle East but he was born here and had attended a Catholic school.
The therapist asked Clara what she thought of the boat people issue. Clara said, ‘I think they should be processed in Australia.’ He replied that he thought so too, but he was curious as to why Clara was so supportive of mainland processing so asked her.
Clara replied, ‘I guess we are like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son. God has given to us everything we need so generously. We live in this beautiful land with food, clothing, and shelter. The elder brother did not want to share any of the Father’s things with his brother when he came back. If we don’t let other people in and share it, well, they might never know peace or have enough food, and they may never hear the Gospel of Jesus or know its freedom, and if we close our doors, well, they might never hear it.’ They continued the exercises, he thanked her for her insights and their conversation meandered on amicably.
Clara calls this chattering the Gospel. She delights in meeting new people, especially young people and chatting about whatever interests them. Clara and many like her are in fellowship with the work of chaplaincy, engaged in the multiplying the work of the Kingdom of God within our public institutions.
Clara has a great idea; chattering the gospel. Can we encourage the members of our congregations to chatter the single ideas of the gospel in a natural un-self-conscious way, following a single point, not feeling the pressure of needing a home run every time?
Feature photo: zoetnet