Today, there was a knock on the door. It was a salesman. I am quite used to them. They are usually down on their luck and have got this job to help them in their search for better opportunities. They carry a bag full of stuff that I imagine many don’t need and a card identifying him/herself (photo and all). I usually say I don’t need anything and haven’t the money on hand to pay for anything. This time was no different. Except he asked, ‘How do you know if you don’t know what I’m selling?’ I looked at him quizzically, as most salesmen go away. I can’t remember what I said next, but I watched him walk away discouraged.
I came back to my desk – unable to get him off my mind. Seeing the 10 pound note sitting on my desk, I heard the urge to go back and get him. I didn’t, and wasn’t going to. Then the knock came on my door. I knew it was going to be him and he immediately asked, ‘What’s that poster you have in your window? Do you believe in God? And if you do, why won’t you help?’ A member of my church had been badgering my stewards about me not having a ‘Holy Week/He is Risen’ poster on my window. To get them out of the line of fire I grudgingly put it up.
I didn’t know what to say. After a few moments of silence, I asked him if he did. He said that he didn’t know. If there was a God, would he be in the situation that he was in and would there be so many people dying? I didn’t know what to say, so I said those are good points. And I asked him what happened to him? He gave me a brief synopsis that I imagine is what happens a lot of the time. In care and now 18, he is out on his own. He is trying to find work.
I asked him what he was selling, and he opened his bag. It was stuff that could be found at any place I suppose. Nothing that I was in dire need of. He showed me a sink unclogger, and remembering our troublesome sink in the bathroom told him that I could actually use that. I asked him if he wanted a drink, and he asked if we had something cold. We went into the kitchen (not the cleanest place in the house, for which I was very apologetic).
Of course my accent invites questions, and he began asking me why I was here. I told him it’s worse than believing in God – I am a minister! We talked about church for a bit and whether or not I would go back to the US. The conversation came back to believing in God, and I said that I sometimes doubt God. But the moments come when I do, like when I sat down and felt the urge to go and find him as he knocked on the door. God was simply not going to let me off the hook today.
He needed to leave, so he shook my hand. I didn’t offer to pray with him, as it felt like too much of a cliché. I go back and forth on whether or not I should have offered it. Maybe it was a missed opportunity. But, I will hope that God works in whatever way he will, even with my own mistakes. Strange this happened because of an Easter poster I didn’t want to put up in my window. This is not the story of my compassion and this stranger meeting God at my door. I have actually been thinking about Matthew 25 – Christ is in those we meet. So I encountered Christ more than this young man did. But, I can hope that perhaps Christ meets him through our encounter – in spite of my unwillingness to help. God seems to work in this way: he brought new life out of me despite my determination to stay in death.
Christ comes embodied to us in these moments. Does that mean this how I think the apostles meant it when they said they met the risen Christ (namely, they didn’t meet Jesus but believed him alive when they encountered others)? Of course not! Christ is truly risen bodily, and we see the importance in this when we encounter others bodily. The risen Christ is not simply an inward, private experience, or a promise of disembodied heaven. He redeemed the creation and our bodies. Who we meet in the body and what we do in the body is so vital because Jesus took a body and redeemed our bodily relationships.