Today, I am going slightly off piste, inspired by Nick King’s approach to Samaritans when seeking an answer to the question, ‘Who is my neighbour?’. I heard him speak last night and have been writing a series of Bible Story re-tellings. I hope this one might speak into and out of the Astonishing Community. I live and work in the Lothians of Scotland, so I have set my stories in places familiar to me, yet appropriate to the story.
The Alert Autiste, after John 4.
Jesus had to travel home through Gorebridge. He came to Vogrie park and was tired out by his journey, so he sat by the adventure playground to rest. It was about noon.
A teenage boy came to climb, wearing a nappy and hooting loudly. Jesus said to him, ‘Give me a drink’. The boy glanced at Jesus, laughed and continued to climb. Once sat on top of the climbing frame, the boy looked at Jesus for longer. Jesus repeated, ‘Give me a drink’, this time miming bringing a cup to his lips. The boy copied the gesture and looked all around him, but he didn’t have a drink with him. So the boy made the gesture again, then he put his fingers on his chin, bringing them in arc to his knees.
‘Good signing!’, the voice came from behind Jesus, it was the boy’s carer. He said, our boy here doesn’t speak, he’s canny though. Now he’s asking you for a drink.’
Jesus smiled, ‘Exactly as he should,’ he signalled to the boy to come, ‘I’ll give him living water.’ The carer said to him, ‘Sir, you have no water bottle, and the shop is shut. Where are you going to get that living water? It’s not nice to tease him.’
The boy was now by Jesus’ side, enthusiastically signing, ‘please’. Jesus lay his hand in blessing on the boy’s head and said, you will never be thirsty again.
The boy stood staring deeply into Jesus, then he started to search in Jesus’ pockets. He found a crumb of bread and a small bottle with a drop of wine remaining in it. He smiled handed them to Jesus and put out his hands.
Jesus offered them to him, as a priest might offer communion at an altar rail. The boy stood up, roared with laughing, kissed Jesus’ cheek and ran off. He returned with visitor after visitor to the park in tow. Dragging each and showing them how to kneel before Jesus. Each one spoke to Jesus, trying to understand what had just happened to them. Had they been attacked? Why did the boy want them here? Those who listened received communion too, offering the bread they had brought for the ducks and wine hidden in brown paper bags.
Many people in Vogrie Park believed in Jesus because of the boy’s actions. So when the carers came to him, they asked Jesus to stay with them at their home; and he stayed there for two days.
In what ways do you feel challenged by this story?
Does this story ring true to the spirit of the gospel?
What questions does it raise in you?
On this day lift before God:
- All who are weary from travelling.
- All who live in this world without words.
- All whose lives are given to caring for others.
- All who notice details others might miss.
- All who have infectious enthusiasm.
- All who are willing to be led by the most vulnerable.