Yesterday morning I was enjoying a cup of coffee in one of our local shops when in walked a couple of gentlemen, one wearing a religious collar. I overheard their conversation regarding churches and the Christian faith, but continued to read the book I had brought with me, The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson. Noticing the title of the book and the author, the older gentleman, the one wearing the collar, approached me and began to chat. He lead in with something like, "It's great to see a young man, reading the Scriptures and reading a book by Eugene Peterson. Hello, fellow brother in the Lord, I'm Jim and this is my friend Sam."
Jim mentioned that he was the local Rector for the Raheny parish of the Church of Ireland and that Sam was a former parishioner who is now a part of another congregation. I mentioned that I loved the architecture of the All Saints church building and that I had always wanted to have a look inside and Jim responded, "Are you busy now? Let me pay for your coffee and we'll take you over and give you a tour. Besides, a BBC crew is going to swing by in a few minutes as they are planning to film a few scenes in the church for an upcoming television series."
I couldn't have asked for a better guided tour. Jim and Sam spent several minutes describing many of the architectural features, explaining the symbolic significance of the stained glass windows, and giving me a brief history of the building and the parish. Arthur Guinness, the great grandson of the original Arthur Guinness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Guinness) proposed and funded the building of the church back in the 1880s and is buried in a crypt in a side room located within the building. Jim allowed me to have a look at the Guinness crypt and I noticed that next to it sat a 250th anniversary can of the black stuff. Underneath the can was a note, written by an anonymous person who thanked the Guinness family for their contribution to Irish culture. Jim said the can was left outside the building during the 250 year celebrations back in 2009.
As we finished the tour the BBC crew had arrived and were milling around making plans for the shots they hoped to get later in the day. Jim, Sam, and I exchanged details and shared a brief prayer. Jim asked if I would be willing to speak at their harvest Sunday in September and I agreed to do so. However, he called me later explaining that he had double booked the date and asked if I would be willing to speak another time and I of course agreed to do so.
I look forward to chatting with Jim in the future and I pray that God will bless whatever time we may have to spend in each others company. As iron sharpens iron, may our interactions with fellow followers of Jesus help us to be faithful in the tasks that God sets before us. If you want to learn more about the All Saints church here's a link to it's Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints%27_Church,_Raheny. You never know who you're going to meet in a coffee shop. - Shay