Church on the Corner

Church on the Corner is an Anglican church in an old pub in Islington, London

Following Jesus in the Urban Desert

A day in the life… by James Mortley

The third bus is full to the gunnels again, it’s 8.37 and I am not sure I going to make it to work on time, taxi goes by with a light on, but the woman ahead in the sharp suit steps in quicker. i missed my alarm again… agitated start to the day… trying to stem the frustration at indiscipline within. Ken why can’t you sort the buses?
In the city, the streets team with grey and black as people hurry their way to offices the Bank Of England towers over us reminding us of a former age of magnificent wealth… the mercedes show room on King William street… Clinton cards has cheap red ballons for valentines day… the smiles from the starbucks sellers… cafe latte… the grins of the security guards at the front desk… 6th floor and the long walk across the floor to my desk with Tony and Lisa at the end… black screen springs to life for another day of staring at the monitor… morning… chat… croissant… order lunch… emails… legal agreements… numbers… banter… complaints…. chicken curry… a treat… bbc website for the latest football news… afternoon and the more of the same… sunset over Southwark cathedral but the blinds are closed, so take a walk… afternoon cafeine… 5.30… the journey home… it’s raining… my feet slide on the pavement… people slipping away in the shadows to their homes… bus is on time… lights on the Gherkin… Old street roundabout… short walk past the northgate pub… the alsation is quiet tonight… no one is home at Oakley yet.

Where do I see God or meet him in the day that goes by? What do I see of Him in the world around me that inspires me or gives an image of relationship with Him, either absence, presence, joy etc? Lent is a time of reflection and drawing closer to God in preparation for Easter coming. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert: lonely, frustrated, tempted, hungry, thirsty and tested, battered by the elements, tested in his identity as the Son of God.

The city with its many pressures and voices of desire and persuasion can have a similar impact on our lives, deceiving and distorting our grip on eternal realities, of who we are in Christ.

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3 thoughts on “Following Jesus in the Urban Desert A day in the …

  1. mark fletcher says:

    Good thoughts chaps.

    Talk of giving up ipods & dvds made me realise that there is one side to this that we have not considered, and are unlikely to experience in this experiment. My suspicion is that Jesus call to simplicity & frugality is not intended to be a burden, but liberty.
    “Live simply and you have nothing to worry about” – Tate Modern.

    The Desert Fathers were a early church monastic movement who shunned the decadence of their society & lived in the wilderness – there is a story that one Monk was visited by visited by the Emperor who ate with him and said
    “You are truly blessed because you do not have the cares of this world. I was born to kingship, and the affairs of my empire are a constant concern to me. Each day I dine on
    the richest meats and cakes and the finest wines are poured into my goblet. And yet, today mere bread and water have satisfied me as no sumptuous feast ever has.”

  2. Garmon says:

    “If I’m truly to live the experience what else do I need to do, or perhaps not do?”

    Ah Steve, now that is a very good question.

    I have accepted that I won’t be buying any CDs, books or DVDs for the next few weeks. It’s ok because it’ll give me a chance to re-discover some of those CDs that I haven’t listened to for a while, and read the books that are gathering dust on the shelf. But having a cheap night at home wouldn’t be as much fun if I hadn’t been able to afford those things in the first place. Would I start watching Eastenders just to make the evenings pass? Now that is a scary thought.

    I guess as well that on this income all the time I wouldn’t have as many clothes and shoes.

    So Steve, should we hide half our CDs, clothes, books etc for the next few weeks? I think that would also mean you giving up your iPod, and me switching back to my old HiFi. Oh dear. Are we going too far or is would it be the logical thing to do? I think we need to discuss that over our ‘free’ breakfast on saturday before taking anything too drastic).

  3. sjm says:

    Day 7,8 & 9 – Tuesday 15th – Thursday 17th

    I’m glad to see a few other Lenters adding their contributions to the blogger. (And probably you guys are even gladder that it’s not just my ramblings you’ve got to read on the website)

    As in so many things, Garmon is absolutely spot on. Not about the Valentine’s thing of course, that’s just a bit of shameless merchandising by Clinton cards and all of their kind, but when he says” the poorer you are, the more expensive things actually are”. That has become more apparent for me over the last few days and, if you’re sitting comfortably, let me tell you why.

    The last couple of days I was in Brussels discussing the exciting world of rice and Uncle Ben’s sauces. And we all know what goes with foreign travel, that’s right, those little wheely luggage things with the pull-up handle. You know, the ones that are exactly the right size so you can get the maximum amount possible on as hand luggage and not have to wait at the baggage carousel with all the holidaymakers. Oh no, you want to get out of the airport, into your taxi and rack up the expenses at the hotel bar without wasting a precious minute.

    Anyway, all was going well until Wednesday morning when I had to pack. Making that classic error of judgement I had crammed the case full of handouts on the way out forgetting that on the return leg I’d have all my other clothes, plus the handouts to put in. And so one brief struggle later the zip declared it had had enough and popped. Obeying that old union rule of one out all out the other zip followed shortly afterwards leaving me with one piece of luggage and no means of fastening it.

    And now we get to the point of all this. What would I do on the way back? Ordinarily I’d just take the hit and buy a new bag for the return journey. Except of course a new bag would cost £60 plus and, this week, I don’t have that kid of money. So instead I had to do a make do and mend job. I spent £13 on a luggage strap to just about keep it all together for the journey home because that was all I could afford. Not only did I look stupid but I’ve still got a broken bag I can’t use AND I still need to buy a new one. So being poor will ultimately cost me £13 more.

    But the lessons don’t end there. As I was in Brussels overnight I got to stay at a rather flash hotel right in the city centre (the joys of travelling with global directors!). And so I got to take in the Grand Place (very nice), the Mannequin Piss (very unimpressive), enjoy a few choice Belgian beers (very strong) and savour the delights of real Belgian cuisine (very fattening). And what did it cost me? Absolutely nothing.

    Granted you can easily argue the case that if they expect me to give up a night of my life they should have to pay a little for the privilege and who am I to argue. But, if I didn’t have my rather nice job I’d not get to see Brussels, not matter how briefly, I’d not get to sample the local delicacies and, most pertinent of all, instead of living free for the best part of two days I’d have to shell out the usual money for food, nights out etc. So NOT really being poor has saved me about £10.

    Where am I going with this? Bear with me, we’re almost there. It was interesting to see that most of the responses to the question about how this thing benefits the poor were based around us experiencing what it’s like to live on a minimum wage. (I think that the experience has got to lead to a change in behaviour, whatever that change may be, to make it truly worthwhile – but that’s an issue for another entry).

    And so, I have to ask myself, am I really living like the poor in our society or am I just setting myself a challenge to see if I can make it. Am I doing this to “walk a mile in another man’s shoes” or just to prove I can walk a mile?

    If I was really poor would I be able to just live of what I happen to already have in my cupboards? Would I be able to sit in and watch the DVDs that I have already bought? Would I be able to play the PS2 games that we already own? Would I be able to read the books that I’d already bought off Amazon? Would I be listening to the CDs I have?

    If I’m truly to live the experience what else do I need to do, or perhaps not do? I guess at this point it’s time to throw it open to the floor.

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