Story 2: The Warrior Victor of Hackney

“I hope you enjoy our al fresco service. We should do this more often. “He laughs loudly.

The chairs from the church have been brought outside in the park, placed in a half crescent shape. Cars and London buses go past on the nearby road. Crowds of pigeons dance in a kite shaped flutter. Children run around the chairs, between makeshift pews and on the decorated red carpet placed on the grass.

People stop and watch, or stop and join. His voice booms when the congregation sing, raucous and lively. When he speaks to the congregation he knows everyone’s name, from the smallest children to the elders. He welcomes their comments:

“That is good news”.

At the end of this service he does not call to God, he roars:

“God bless this Parish.”

Like a warrior charging to battle, his voices challenges hope from this mix-matched congregation. His voice makes them believe that somewhere in these strange lives they lead in this inner-city part of London, that there is a reason.

The congregation is a mix of real Londoners, older men, some fancier ladies in hats and Africans, real Africans who speak and dress with all the colours and rhythm of Africa. There is a community among these different characters.

“Holy Spirit come, be with us”, he calls, arms wide up to the sky, eyes closed.

A child runs over the church carpet. The outside keyboard player catches a flying sheet of music. A man in a wheelchair coughs. A grandmother clutches her grandson on her knee. An African man turns to smile.

“God come and be among us”, he calls again.

God does not need to descend as a miracle. In this garden, amongst these people, in the loose space between them, God exists. He is already there.

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