It was good - just before Christmas - to have Paul ask me my name ... "Gordon .... right I wont forget that now you seem to be here every week..."; it was good this week to have Tyronne abusing me because I support Chelsea; it was good this week to laugh with Bob* as I took the names..
"So Bob what's you name...?"
"How'd you spell that?"
After a while he realises I'm mucking about and smiles with what are definitely not designer teeth. Something very simple happens at Faith House, there is a lot of humour and leg pulling through which something profound happens. Men usually excluded are not only included but are actively embraced - and that makes Bob's smile symbolic and beautiful.
I'm wanting to explore a little of the theology of Miroslav Volf this year and I've just finished the impressive looking Volf, J., & Volf, M. (1997). A Spacious Heart: Essays on Identity and Belonging . a great book in that there are only two chapters!
I like what he has to say about the concept of Embrace and Exclusion. Embrace that corresponds to that of Salvation and Exclusion that he sees and connects with sin. I'm hoping to follow this theme with him. I'm hoping to follow this theme further while at Faith House and where else God places me. Volf picks up on what I feel...
"The spirit of embrace creates communities of embrace - places where the power of the exclusion system has been broken and from where divine energies of embrace can flow, forging rich identities that include the other..." (1997:60)
Let's not fall into the trap of thinking that we are so good embracing these poor men on the margins of society. Let's not fall into the trap of allowing mission engagement to be patronising. This week at Faith House I felt accepted because through simple goodbye's I know these men -some in desperate situations - are actually beginning to embrace me
----------*Bob - is his real name a pseudonym here would have not had the same impact; in any case there are some people like Patrick that deserve to be made known ... Bob is almost there!!