By: FR HAYNES HUBBARD
Annoyed and embarrassed
We have been in Portugal six months now and I have just returned from the post office with my baby son Caspian, where the delightful girl cooed and chirped at him and then proceeded to tell me something in the nicest possible way, and all I could do was stand there, looking foolish, cause I couldn’t understand anything she was saying.
Eventually, I gathered enough to comprehend, paid for the stamps and thanked her in my atrocious attempt at Portuguese and left feeling, not for the first time, foolish and rude. If I am going to live here, the least I can do is learn the language.
I have all sorts of excuses, of course. Susan speaks fluently so she looks after all of our family needs. The church is all in English (in fact we have a mandate which ensures we do not proselytise the Portuguese – not that they have much to worry about from me!).
I am frantically busy as the Chaplaincy is in a state of transition and growth and I spend most of my time rushing here and there. Sitting and studying a new language is not much of an option at the moment.
But they are all excuses. Nothing more. Because if I really felt strongly about it, I would do something about it and not just grumble to myself about myself.
This is perhaps what many people feel about the Church. They are deeply preoccupied with other things, which seem terribly important and urgent, and demanding. It is our job as a Church community to remind the world around us of the need for the message of the Gospel. Of our founder, Jesus.
Professor Dallas Willard begins his remarkable book The Divine Conspiracy with this statement: “My hope is to gain a fresh hearing for Jesus, especially among those who believe they already understand him. In his case, quite frankly, presumed familiarity has led to unfamiliarity, unfamiliarity has led to contempt and contempt has led to profound ignorance”.
CS Lewis puts it another way in Mere Christianity: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing people often say about Him [Jesus]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sorts of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse….let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to”.
‘Ego Eimi’ – I am the Way, the Truth and the Light, He said.
We are slowly, but determinedly, discovering what that means. You would be most welcome to join us.
Father Haynes Hubbard is the Senior Chaplain to St. Vincent’s Anglican Chaplaincy, with Sunday services in Praia da Luz, Almancil and Santa Barbara de Nexe. He can be reached at [email protected]