On Saturday I was at the Journey into Wholeness stall at the Mind, Body Soul Exhibition in Colchester. This is the sixth year that JiW, an inter-church group, has run a stall at this annual weekend supermarket of beliefs, therapies and health products.
Centrepiece of stall was a giant 8′ x 4′ image of Christ painted over the course of the event by artist David Hollingsworth. People stopping to chat were invited to contribute their thoughts about, or experiences of, faith, belief or God or to record their own responses to the image of Christ on an A7 size piece of paper. These contributions were later incorporated physically into the painting.
The painting, and the fact that it was all happening right before your eyes, drew attention in a way that I don’t think anything we’ve done before has managed.
As with last year, my overall impression was that most people were not particularly seeking, just lost, or confused. Some I spoke to weren’t even very sure why they had really come or what they were looking for. One lady I spoke with had lost her son to a misdiagnosed ulcer, had a daughter with a new and constantly screaming baby and was looking after her mother with Alzheimer’s. Although she had the memory of a faith, shortly after the death of her son she consulted a medium who she believes was able to connect her to her dead son.
How could I stand in judgement over her decision when, as far as I could tell, the church had been absent when she needed God’s presence and God’s people most. I offered to pray for her, which she gladly accepted and we stood there in the aisle for a few seconds as I asked God to draw near to her in a way that she would be able to recognise. I hope he does.