The other day – just as our online Deacons meeting was starting – there was an unexpected knock on our door, and we opened it to find Matthew’s brother on the doorstep. He is a taxi driver, and had just completed a rather lucrative job, taking someone from Bournemouth to Heathrow Airport, before deciding to call in on us on his way home, on the off-chance that we were in.
Of course, our deacons were very understanding and started the meeting without us, while we caught up briefly with one of the special people in our lives, who we had not seen in person for over a year.
The following day, we received another unexpected visit, this time from our granddaughter… along with her own taxi driver, also known as her mum!
It occurred to us that in these rather strange times, when we are rightly discouraged by the ‘rule of six’ from mingling too much with other households, and when in some parts of the country such visits are temporarily illegal in an effort to stop the spread of the dreaded virus, visits like this from loved ones take on a much greater significance and can bring much joy. We no longer take them for granted, especially when we don’t know if and when we ourselves might come under even greater restrictions on gathering with friends and family.
In their concluding encouragements, the writer of the book of Hebrews says this: – ‘Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are suffering as if you yourselves were suffering.’
In challenging times, these are important principles to hold on to and value. Where we have the opportunity to spend time with others, it can be an unexpected gift of joy from God, in which they might be the unexpected gift to us, or we might be the unexpected gift to the other person (just make sure you are not presenting them with the gift of Covid as well!). And where circumstances prevent us from meeting up, then God calls us to find ways of identifying with those in the ‘prison’ of unwanted isolation from friends and family. Where visits are not possible or are inadvisable, that might involve taking the time to make a phone call, or a video call via Zoom or FaceTime, and spending time with them that way.
The greatest unexpected visit of all was of course the visit of Jesus to this world, to show us God’s love and to free us from the ‘prison’ of our isolation from God. That is the good news of the Gospel, which we are called to take into all the world, and into our own relationships with colleagues, family and friends through the way that we value them. So next time you receive an unexpected visit, give God thanks for the joy that it brings. And remember that you too can be a means of bringing God’s love whenever you are the unexpected visitor – whether in person or virtual!
With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline