Hi, I’m Penny Lyons, singer songwriter with a Christian band “Out of the Ashes”. Welcome to God Today. Have you ever thought about the number of strangers you meet on a daily basis? The number of people you pass in the street or the number of people that you regularly pass on the street, but don’t even speak to? I know that I’ve got this thing of sitting in a train, watching another train go by and realizing there are all those people in there and all of them have their daily lives and they have their difficulties to deal with. They have their broken relationships, their heartaches, and also their joys. We’ll never get to share them if we don’t speak to them. Now, Kevin and I go into churches and we meet stranger after stranger, after stranger. Now, one of the real joys of that is that sometimes people would talk to us where perhaps they wouldn’t talk to somebody that was close to them or who knew them better.
There was a story that I heard the other day, I’m going to call the girl Jane, that told it to me. From the age of five to 15 years old, she was continuously abused by her step father. At the age of 15, when she could take it no more, she walked out of the house at six o’clock one morning carrying nothing, no clothes, no food, nothing except what she had in her pockets. She had no money. She walked out of the house and she sat up on top of a hill and she watched the sunrise, not knowing what on earth she was going to do next.
In that moment of desperation she just added a little prayer, “God, I’ve heard You exist. I’ve never seen any evidence of it, but if You do exist, this is Your time. Will you help me?” At that moment, coming out of the church just at the bottom of the hill, was a group of people who were doing the Easter service that Sunday morning. They proceeded up the hill and they found Jane sitting on her seat. They swept her up. They made sure she had food to eat. They gave her all the love that she could hope for at that moment. They found her clothes. They found her place to move.
Now I met her when she’d reached 35 years old and what was really interesting about her story was that she was unable to relate back. Now she was a Christian. She was learning. And in spite of the fact, she’d never been able to pray for herself. In all those years, she was reaching the point where she was learning how much God loved her. She was reaching the point where she realized that she could pray for herself, not just for other people. She was also able to look back at those years from 5 to 15, when she was living in that torment and see the people that had brought little pockets of light in a desert life.
There was a head teacher who had been presented with a little girl who had stolen a bar of chocolate from a classmate, who rather than berating or getting angry just cuddled the little girl and gave her some more chocolate because she realized how much heartache there was there. The elderly couple who lived further up the street, who recognized Jane years later and said to her, “we knew that things were wrong, but we didn’t know what to do. So we just prayed for you.” They prayed and they prayed. They prayed for her. Little bit lights that shine in the darkness…a stranger on the street that told a joke or that smiled, made her feel that she was human.
It brought to mind in this conversation with her, I was in Gloucester quite recently in England. I saw this young man walking up the street. He was big. He was probably a little bit scary to look at, but he looked amazing. He was wearing a red t-shirt black jeans and red shoes. I just told him about it, “You look fantastic” and he turned around because somebody had obviously said something abusive to him. And he said, “What did you say?” and I said, “I just said, you look amazing. I really like what you’re wearing. You look great.” And I saw his face go from anger and ready to be on the offensive ot this huge grin. He came forward and he put his hand out, an enormous hand, and said, “I just want to say, and he shook my hand and said, thank you so much.” I realized that in a really small way, I just bought a little bit of light in the darkness.
When I walk along the street, if you see somebody that’s sitting on the street, who is homeless, a little bit of light in the darkness would be buying them a sandwich, asking them how they are today. We are God’s children on earth, carrying God’s light and it is our job to bring light in the darkness wherever we see it…a compliment for the old lady at the bus stop, you’ll find she loves it. You’ll find the girl on the till in the supermarket who is very rarely spoken to. When you actually ask her how she’s doing and share a bit of light with her, you will brighten her day. There is so much we can give so much we can offer.
I have a Bible reading I’d like to share with you. I feel sure you’re going to be familiar with it. It’s Luke chapter 10 and it’s the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. When he was attacked by robbers, they stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So to Levite when he came to the place and saw him passed by on the other side, but a Samaritan as he traveled, came where the man was and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denari and gave them to the innkeeper to take care of him, he said. And when I return, I will reimburse you for the extra expense you may have. Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
We can’t all offer what that good Samaritan offered that day, but what we can do is offer little shafts of God’s light into the lives of other people, through simple, kind, courteous daily actions. I’d like to close in prayer, “Father God, we’re often so afraid to talk to each other, so afraid to share joy with one another and yet we have so much joy to share. Lord God, I ask You to fill us with courage and with hope and with the confidence to just be kind, to bring light into the desert, through the kindness of the strangers that we might meet. Thank You, Father God, amen.”