As I write this it is a bright sunny day in mid-June but by the time you read it it will probably be the beginning of July. By then I will have had my induction service, just over 15 months late! Unfortunately after the extending of the Covid restrictions it will not be with as many people as I had hoped and still with no singing. And to add to my disappointment my weekend away at our Guide activity centre, Waddow Hall has also had to be cancelled as we now won’t be able to accommodate everybody within social distancing rules. However, complaints over, I am still looking forward to taking some time off and getting away for a few days within the rules.
For many people July – August is the holiday season and a lot of them take the opportunity to have a holiday from church as well. It is a good opportunity however to meet people and make new friends and as you get to know them possibly even to share a little about your faith. It is probably better though not to start in the same way that the woman I sat next to on a plane in America did.
She had been murmuring unintelligibly to herself for a while obviously praying and although I couldn’t understand what she was saying it sounded very repetitive and not a known language. When she had finished she turned to me and started asking me questions about whether I believed in God and whether I had the ‘gift of tongues’. When I told her that I believed that I had been given other gifts instead she insisted that I should ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of tongues and that I would then receive it. Even when I replied that the gift of tongues was quite a way down on Paul’s list of gifts of the spirit and that the gifts that I believed I had been given were higher up the list she still insisted that I should ask for it. There was no discussion of what faith means, no real sharing of belief just a single minded insistence on her part that all Christians should speak in tongues.
How much more effective it would be to say a short prayer and then explain to your neighbour, ‘I always say a prayer when we take off – it’s reassuring to know that there is someone looking out for me.’ You could then carry on a more normal conversation which may or may not include matters of faith and belief but would have a good chance of doing so especially if you have sparked the curiosity of the person you are sitting next to.
Talking about faith needn’t only happen on plane journeys though. Similar opportunities can occur in all sorts of situations, you just have to recognise them when they come along. Wearing a Christian badge of a fish, the praying hands, a dove or a symbol of the trinity might elicit a question of ‘What’s that badge you’re wearing?’ However it arises, seize the chance when it comes. And whether you go away or stay at home, have a happy holiday.