If you read 2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction”, this basically means that you must be ready to share the word with someone at all times. You must be ready to pray at all times. Sometimes I hear people giving directions to tourists or delivery drivers. Often I think these people will never be seen again. So how are you when giving directions or explanation.
We had the summer holiday recently and during the course of what we had planned we were welcomed to see Hindu places of Worship and the many Buddhist shrines and temples that dot the land. Everyone from the driver to the staff in the hotel wanted to share something of their faith, they also said that during the 25 or so festivals in the country a year, bars closed and various services were not available. They didn’t view these times as an inconvenience or a reproach to secular tourists. They spoke of a welcome to street parties which were packed and open to all. The Feasts were lavish with free food attracting people from all over. Our hosts were happy to answer questions and tell us how they enjoyed various aspects of their faith.
Adherence was high and in good spirit. It covered all ages and economic groups. The parking and the driving was not for the faint hearted. Every gathering ended like a wild west film when the young and old poured out to their tut-tuts motorbikes and scooters, and vanished.
We had the chance to go to one of the big Buddhist temples where an event or pilgrims was taking place and an artefact for displaying a tooth of the Buddha was revealed, and worshippers were able to enter the chamber and leave gifts of flowers and food. It was striking how people stood or sat and prayed and actually created a tranquil air in a place with such activity. I was also impressed by the temple provisions. I didn’t think Emily and her wheel chair would be able to get to the top gallery where the action was sited but a kind policeman said he could get us to the action. It turns out that the Buddha has lifts as well as Methodists; the sort you would find in a department store. I felt rather sheepish thinking only God spent money on access.
The art work was stunning at many sites and it was not unusual to see large shrines
or heads of the Buddha high on hills bathed in light. One temple looked like a royal garage where grand motorcars stood having being handed over to the temple. The idea being that one parted with things that really mattered in order to serve the Buddha. Jewellery and mobiles, all discarded life was there.
However even with the dust, (no one had brought a duster or a Dyson), the place had life. It felt current, and alive. It was real for a nation and the nation was young and connected to the faith of old. But they treasured it and welcomed people to see it. You don’t find the young waiters in this country forming a queue to speak of the
Exeter martyrs, the times of services here or in the Cathedral. It gave me much to think about. In and out of season we should be ready to simply share Christ, say why we are here, and how we celebrate.