pencil scribblings #5

Christmas 1992 I was homeless, penniless, wandering around England and Wales believing myself shadowed every moment by the CIA. A day or two before Christmas itself I attended a church service in the town of Llangollen, North Wales. My attendance at that particular church was unusual because the service had a very Evangelical flavour. I was (or am) a convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism: so the Evangelical tradition has mostly passed me by, in my life, apart from one or two brushes with it. This was one such. Generally I can cope happily with Methodist and Baptist services but anything smelling even slightly of Billy Graham (is that still a name people recognise?) turns me off. Anyhow this particular experience of Evangelism was one of my best ever. It was more like a big room than a small hall , and there was lots of enthusiastic singing with which I joined in, enthusiastically. After the service, the Pastor took the trouble to quiz me. I felt he was “testing” me to see if I was of God or of the Devil. He was nevertheless genial and benign. “Do you love Christ?” He threw the question at me and I had to justify myself at that moment and find a way to reassure him. Of course there flashed through my mind the inconvenient fact of my disbelief in the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. But he hadn’t asked me about my faith. And even though the name Christ begged the question of Jesus’ divinity (which I didn’t believe in) I felt totally able to answer: “I love Christ”, and to mean it. That man’s own sincerity had drawn forth a sincerity from me in return. I am grateful to him for encouraging me to declare my truth in this way. At that moment it didn’t matter that I meant ‘Christ’ as a symbol while he (most probably) meant to pin me down to literal belief. We somehow met and understood one another at that moment. By the grace of God.

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