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The bad thing about being at home this morning was that I did not want to leave. I was up around 5:45am and the cat (now recovered from his recent illness) was on the couch, on his blanket and meowing to be fed. The high speed internet at home was working well and compared to the last two months my videos seemed to have uploaded in an instant. I still wasn’t feeling well though and it was obvious I was in need of some R & R. Even so, I still had 3 cities to visit and preach in and today was Cambridge which was about a two hours drive from my home in Sevenoaks.
From my own lounge, with hotwater bottle, blanket and coffee, I reached out to maybe 35 different churches, Chaplains, organisations and Christian Unions. Cambridge appeared to be swimming with them. Today was remembrance Sunday however, and they were going to be busy.
I was dressed and on the road around 08:15am. I didn’t know what God had planned for me today, where I was going, or when I was going to eat again. Not that had been a problem in any city thus far, that’s for sure, but it was a great excuse to get a Maccy D’s breakfast and a black coffee to keep me going on the journey, so on my way to the M25, I swung down to Otford and picked up some Maccy Vitals.
The roads were clear and the journey was bathed in blue skies and morning sunshine. I wish I was just hanging out with Bridget today.
I was asking God to give me that Golden thread to pick up and follow today when about 09:15am my phone rang with a response to one of my early morning emails. Hannah was a student in Cambridge and was from Norwich. She was thrilled to see that I had been there the previous day and recognised some of the places and people I had interviewed, especially Carrie. Nice! So, I was going to meet her at Holy Trinity church around 1:45pm and she was going to take me to the Round Church and ‘Christian Heritage’ who were committed to sharing the history of Christianity in England and demonstrating that it is a real and living faith with the power to change society today and in addition to that, Hannah also invited me to student homeless outreach tonight meeting at Newnham College. It could be a very long day and frankly, I was wondering if I was going to make it home tonight.
En route I rang my friend John in Scotland to see if he had any contacts in Cambridge. The only one he came up with was Pastor Soandso of Suchandsuch Christian church. I reckoned both Bridget and myself had already emailed him. Sigh…. I tried looking him up on my iPad (I had pulled over) though try as I might I could not get hold of him. It just ‘wasn’t happening.’ Oh well.
I arrived in Cambridge around 09:50. There were no parking places or Cathedrals to cajole and so it was yet another expensive city centre car park on Jesus lane. The place was buzzing with uniformed personnel all booted and spurred, a big issue seller ‘guilting’ people into buying, shouting, “C’mon put me out my misery, buy a big issue, then we can all stop pretending I’m invisible” and across from him a dour 20 year old with a sign saying he was into the 2nd day of his animal rights hunger protest trying to stop the UK government smashing puppies and kittens heads in with hammers. Meanwhile the shops were open, the market already beginning to bustle and if you wanted a coffee and a sit down then you would be lining up a long time in a Q. It’s a mad world made even madder this morning by men in caps and gowns darting past you on bikes. Religion, civic responsibility, remembrance of the armed forces dead and disabled, all vivisected alive by hot iron and glass, education, exploitation, social class segregation and the degradation of the poor all seemed to be squashed into a small area around the Bridge of Sighs, with the fruit of female vicars in black frocks, and genderless women with purposefully cropped hair, all topping this strange cocktail smoothie mix of madness on this blue sky sunny Cambridge morning. This city looked like a great place to be a middle class extrovert. I mean who would notice and who would care?
For some reason my battery had not charged correctly on my Video Camera, so with an early lunch of a Chai Latte in Nero’s, across from Holy Trinity, I found a socket and plugged it in. There was a service at 11:30am across the way and I might just make it there. I did some journaling until 11:20 and then decided to mosey on over to see what was happening at Trinity. Again, I was not feeling well. I am convinced I have some kind of infection.
Anyways, I asked the young man on the welcome team and also on church staff if he could give the vicar my card and ask him if I could have an interview after. He got back to me PDQ and told me that the Vicar was too busy to have an interview. Fair enough. It was a busy church and a busy Sunday morning.
The speaker this morning, no preaching was done, was a former full career Army Officer and former Commander First Battalion Grenadier Guards from 1997-2000 which included 2 operational tours. David Hutchison reached the rank of Colonel and his Staff experience included posts at Ministry of Defence and HQ Land Forces. This was remembrance Sunday and the former Colonel spoke of the image of crosses in medals of honour, especially the VC. It was a good but unusual message, more suited I thought to a men’s meeting than a church full of say, 300 22 year old brain boxes all being very cool. (NO, I am not being cynical, just observational). One of the more unusual reference points of sharing was when he told us how his recently received gift of tongues had kept him calm and sent him to sleep for a couple of hours prior to a boxing match, thus reserving his energy for the fight. Like I say, it was an unusual message. Maybe you can download the message from their website. I am sure you will find it very interesting. http://www.htcambridge.org.uk/welcome.htm
Service over, I tried to mingle. However, no cool 22 year old wants to talk to a grey haired old fart, so I was pretty much by myself save I eventually gravitated to another young fifty year old and we hung round together leant against an old pillar in the church sucking on our oatmeal chocolate biscuits and tepid tea and making uncomfortable conversation. What a shame I hadn’t the chance to interview the Colonel, after all, I had interviewed his boss the other day. What a missed opportunity. I think I needed to have been more pushy and just barged on over to the pew? Ah well.
I retired to Nero’s across the way and in just a wee while was joined by Hannah. It was 13:45 and she had to be off by 14:30, so after a brief chat, she took me around to the 12Th Century round church where I arranged to go on a 1.5 hour tour of the Christian connections of Cambridge which was being organised by Christian Heritage . Fantastic. I also managed to get an interview with Hannah and the Peter Greyling the development director at Christian heritage who was conducting the tour.
Now Cambridge is a brainy place. Indeed, being there, it made me realise just how stupid I really was and as I was getting older, seemed more prone to be. There is no doubt that we are in need of some great Theologians. Maybe, some time ago, I might have aspired to be minor Theologeon but it’s too late now. Even so we do need them, and it is true that we do need to follow God with all of our mind and no doubt, all heart and no head has contributed to the imbecilic nature of the church, especially we Biblical charismatics who often times get hooked into such hokeyness in the name of the Holy Spirit that it just isn’t funny. We need to go see the Wizard.
So anyways, the tour started on time. There was about a dozen of us and about ten minutes in this geezer asks me where I am from. I tell him and ask him where he is from and what he does. He’s from Cambridge and is a Pastor. “Which church?” says I.
“Suchandsuch” he says
“Oh you must be Pastor Soandso then!” says I. “How spooky is that! I have been trying to contact you and was just speaking about you this morning and hear you are!”
I mean C’mon! Isn’t that amazing!
So, I give the brother my card and then tells him what I am doing. Now, for some reason, my excitement was not really communicated and it felt as though I was a mud pie slipping down a wall. Ah well. Maybe I just did not communicate well? Maybe he had no meetings today? Maybe he thought I was a nutter? In any event, when we got to Latimer’s Pulpit in St Edwards church I was so busy chatting to the church secretary to see if he would ask the vicar if I might speak there tonight that I got separated from the tour and Pastor Suchandsuch just disappeared. What a missed opportunity. I think I needed to have been more pushy and hounded him? Ah well. Sometimes, it’s not just me who misses a God opportunity. Phew!
Meanwhile the church secretary in St Edwards didn’t seem to be confidant that I would get the opportunity to speak. “Listen” I says, “As the great Philosopher has said “Who dares wins Rodney. Who dares wins.” This was Cambridge however and he was obviously not familiar with the my Philosophical reference point. Still, though I left my card, he never called back. What a missed opportunity. I think I needed to have been stayed with him whilst he made the phone call? Ah well.
I eventually made my way back to the Round church. It was dark but the nice geezer still took me by myself around to Sydney Sussex College to see the plaque indicating that Cromwell’s head was buried there, the location of which was only known to three people .The Royalists might just dig him up again.
I paid my £11 for the parking (it would have cost £22 on a weekday) and pulled out a couple of miles to Maccy D’s to get some supper, do some journaling and prepare for tonight’s meeting back at Holy Trinity, where I was going to meet with David Torrance who would escort me to Newnham College for the 8:45pm prayer and preparation for the homeless outreach.
After a couple of hours of screeching kids in Maccy D’s I was willing to confess that I was the one who had killed Cromwell, anything to make it stop, and left the place a very jaded and fatter individual. It was time to get back into the city centre.
It was late and so parking on the street was both easier and more importantly…free! David is a young Theologian and I met him outside Costa at around 8:00pm and we walked to Newnham to meet the other Students.
In the end, there was about 6 Cambridge Christian students. I interviewed three of them and then helped them make Sandwiches and hot drinks for the homeless.
Apparently this project started on an informal basis and continues on one as well. Previous students handed over the baton and introduced the new workers to the existing ‘homeless clientele’. Look you now, these Cambridge Christian students are busy bunnies. They usually don’t have a job whilst studying as the demands of their degree course are so high. They are very bright and very busy, and are usually already committed to their local church in Cambridge as well as the Christian Union there, so, in addition to this, to turn up, plan up, pray up and mount up, for two nights a week it really quite remarkable. I can think of more than enough excuses not to do this, yet there they are, on top of a very heavy workload, reaching out twice weekly to the homeless of Cambridge. Now, I think that is quite remarkable and most commendable.
Before all of this of courese- We met for prayer and I had the opportunity to share from the book of the day. Hope you are blessed!
The wee team splits into two once on the streets. One team patrolling known haunts in the city centre and the other team, like outriders, take about a 45 minute walk to haunts external to the centre which might occupy the stragglers that never make it into the centre. Tonight they only found one wreck of a poor individual, unconscious with alcohol covered in blankets and laying under the Chlorine packed outlet vent of the local swimming pool. Warm but not so good for your health. Hannah tried to wake them whilst Joshua poured a hot drink. The person was not for moving though and so Sandwiches were left next to them for when they became conscious. I walked back with them to the City Centre where they would join up with the other tam and continue their patrol, still armed with Sandwiches and hot soup. I found my way back to the car and as I pushed in my address for home, I got a text from Hannah:
“Thanks for coming out with us this evening – just saw a couple of people who could use prayer – could you pray for Jonny – who needs peace and also a lady who is quite mentally unwell”
I am so glad these guys are out there on the streets. Its quite an example to me in particular.
I got back home around 12:30 and dropped into bed not long after and was asleep by 01:00am. I was aching and absolutely knackered.
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