32 | a small shopping bag #Lent2022

Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11b)

I was 19 years old and studying theology at Whitley College. A few years earlier I’d experienced a shift into a way of thinking and feeling rooted in scripture and in the experience of God as understood in Christian faith. Through that experience I discovered deeper meaning and joy in life. I felt driven to learn more, so when I finished year 12 I went straight for theology as my undergraduate degree.

I could barely afford the modest fees and my weekly income of $180 had to cover my rent, bills, food, transport … everything. I was happy. But even the smallest purchases I weighed up carefully. So as I browsed the theological bookshop I gazed longingly at an impressive commentary on the Book of Revelation, knowing that I could not afford the $100 price tag.

I was chatting with a couple of other people in the shop, commenting on the books that stood out, talking about why we were there and what we were studying. I’d moved on and was browsing another section on my way towards the door when a guy I’d been chatting with walked up to me again and handed me a small shopping bag. Inside was the Revelation commentary, with a receipt showing that it had been paid for.

I used that commentary for my unit on Revelation that semester. Many years later I completed a PhD on the Book of Revelation, and that commentary is one item in the bibliography. I am still learning and exploring what Christian faith means, and I still value the times when I connect with others who are doing the same. I experience kindness and a spirit of generosity from others who are on the journey with me. Ω

Reflect: Have you ever received a surprising gift from a stranger? What was it? How did this gift make ripples in your life?

What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent. This year’s theme is Fruit of the Spirit. Why? Read this. #Lent2022. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent © Sanctuary, 2022. 

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