So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” Mark 14: 13-15
For me, this text reads like something from the matrix. Here is Jesus, rather like the imposing figure of Morpheus, telling his disciples exactly how the plan will play out. Who is the owner of this house? Why should he be so willing to follow the directions of some scruffy, itinerant men of low social standing? It almost feels like this man is part of an elaborate hack, placed inside a hostile computer simulation to help the disciples on their way.
This week, I’m performing with my university’s opera ensemble for a ‘mini-tour’ in London. It’s not been the easiest week by any stretch of the imagination. London is a terrifying city for someone who has never lived in an urban context, and I would imagine that Jerusalem felt the same for these men who had been sent into the big city with very questionable instructions. So far, as a cast, we’ve driven through Trafalgar square in my friend’s convertible Beetle with the roof down and a double bass standing in the rear seat; and we’ve managed to make a 30-minute journey on the tube into a two-hour fiasco in which we were at several points heading in completely the wrong direction. There has been stress, tears and plenty of disagreement, too.
I don’t think that Christian faith will ever change the fact that sometimes our endeavours will be chaotic or not go to plan. I always think of that popular ‘celtic blessing’ with some reservations: Is it pastorally responsible to pray ‘may the wind be ever at your back …’ when we know full well that this will not always be the case? As a church, we need to remember that our place is not to uphold the Gospel as the solution to people’s troubles in the world, but to uphold the Gospel by being alongside people through those troubles.
We’re now uncomfortably close to the start of term (eek!), and this week, student leaders will be attending SCM’s Leadership Training in Birmingham. Please pray for everyone preparing their student groups for the next academic year!
Remember that Jesus is as alive today as he was for his disciples, and daily does amazing things. But also remember that those amazing things may be done with our hands. This week be open to those times when you feel inexplicably ‘nudged’ into action.
Written by Alex Akhurst, SCM Member and President of Durham JAM. Alex is studying Music at Durham Uni.