I’m travelling again. I’ve written on this previously and the decision to travel with my husband at this stage of our lives. This time the tear was not my girls but my parents, as my Mum has just had major surgery and has recovered slower than expected, so it will be lineball now as to whether she is out of hospital by the time I get home
Each time I travel I look for God in the moment. This time I’m acutely aware of my shortcomings as a traveller. As an Australian travelling in the USA, I am aware of our cultural image as being bad tippers, It is not in our culture to tip or to carry cash. I’ve been aware that this time I have failed to recompense, Not because I was being stingy but because I didn’t know what to do. When I’m tired the situation is worse, I revert back to my usual behaviour. That is, to be genuinely thankful, and to cheerfully thank and move on. Sometimes it’s been because I haven’t had any cash in my purse. I noticed that there is a new prayer that has come into my being and seems to be repeated regularly “Dear God please may my incompetence in this situation not harm this person and may you recompense them for my mistakes.”
It is not just in my lack of tipping prowess that I am aware that I don’t fit in. It’s also in my dress, sometimes I have not packed appropriately for an unexpected change in the weather. Both of these things had me thinking on the passage in Luke 16:15, that God knows what is in our hearts. None of us knows what others are thinking. How my lack of tipping is perceived by anyone is about them, God knows what is in my heart. My contemplation switched to how we welcome families into our congregations, it is a two way street. How they perceive us is as much a part of the equation as how we are trying to be perceived.
In Australia at the moment we, the church, are not perceived well by the general community that have stopped trusting Christians and stopped seeing a need for faith in their lives. Like my turning to prayer when I have felt I’ve let people down. I want to encourage congregations to turn to prayer for those families they have been faithfully preparing for in anticipation. A prayerful response is as much a part of the preparation than the actions.