“Where do we get off the tube,” I lean over and ask H seated next to me on the underground.
“St. Paul’s Cathedral,” he says, eyes focused on his phone, thumb scrolling.
“I’m glad I brought flats in my purse, the balls of my feet are already screaming.”
Seated across from us, a young girl looks in a small mirror, eyes darting from her reflection over to H, back and forth, back and forth as if she is checking to see if he’s watching. Or is she watching him?
She puts the mirror away in the purse lying across her lap, ruffles hands inside while looking up as if she is blind and searching for something familiar. And her eyes, when they lower slowly back down toward H; she hesitates, looks away, like a child being naughty and found out.
To her left, a woman wears black leather, leans up against the door with arms tightly folded over her chest. Her eyes aren’t darting, they are fixed and glaring a hole into H, as if she is having a silent argument with voices inside her head.
Why are they staring, I wonder?
A few seats down, a man looks over at us from behind the newspaper spread out like a shield across his chest. He quickly adjusts his coat, folds the paper into quarters and looks the opposite direction.
It’s his collar. H is wearing a black jacket with his clerical collar because we are on our way to the consecration service for new bishops. I forgot he had it on. Until we moved to London I never gave that a second thought.
This could be the first time I experience being spit upon, I think, as we walk off the train, up the steps and into the station.
“Where is the door to get upstairs?” I ask H.
It’s Wednesday and we’re in a new-to-me part of London, waiting for the man behind the bar to take our drink order.
“I think it’s through there, on the other side of that wall,” he points over my head.
Frothy beer in hands, we slowly walk upstairs and choose a round table in the back of the room while the comedians are warming up in the back. We’re supporting a friend who is practicing comedy on the top floor of a pub. But the room is virtually empty.
Waiting for more people to show up, the organizer of the event asks us a bit sheepishly, if we can move up to the front table directly in front of the microphone, for the sake of those who will be performing.
When the emcee begins the event, she warms up the crowd by telling jokes and interacting with people in the audience. Pointing to H sitting front and center she asks, “What do you do?”
I look over at H and gulp.
“I’m a vicar,” H says with a smile and direct eye contact.
And then she moves quickly on to me.
“You are good people, I can’t give you any sh**,” she assesses, while laughing a bit uncomfortably.
Each comedian thereafter makes some small adjustment in delivery; some small reference to “being religious.” Eventually, we learn four of the seven people in the audience are Christians. What are the chances?
A young, baby-faced performer paces back and forth, fidgets with the microphone and pushes hands in and out of jean pockets. Attempting to make us laugh, he admits the last joke is about atheists and struggles with whether or not he should try it out on us because there is a vicar in the room. He’s laughing but conviction is what his body communicates.
“Go ahead and do it,” H affirms with laughter.
Without Christ, we evaluate people by what they have and how they look and we get it all wrong. But once we behold the face of Jesus, we see directly inside through the lens of love.
There is always an invitation for a fresh start, a new life and we are Christ’s ambassadors of reconciliation – on trains, buses, and pubs.
I learned later that the emcee was scrolling through Google with swiftness on her phone during a break, looking up the words Vicar and Priest. She hadn’t a clue what those words meant but admitted she likes Christians because they can laugh at themselves.
God is making his appeal through us everywhere we go because wherever we go, the glory of God goes with us, even when we feel in the minority.
Through daily choices we speak for Christ and not being offended by a lack of faith in the people we encounter is a choice that matters, especially to those who watch us.
God is the biggest presence in the room and that can be condemning or convicting depending on where you sit among the crowds of the world.
As ambassadors of Christ, we aren’t tasked with changing perceptions but rather, inviting a change in perspective.
Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, MSG)
Have you ever felt in the minority as a Christian? Tell me about that in the comments.