Sometimes life just gets in the way of ministry, and they must be converged: a good example this morning is the need for the car’s MOT, and why I have to sit in a cafe on Gosport High Street, drinking coffee and tapping away at my laptop. It is not a wasted morning, as it gives me an unbridled and largely undisturbed opportunity to start work on my sermon for next week and possibly even think a little about Holy Week, although why I should feel guilty about working on my preaching is a little odd – prayer and preparation is an essential part of ministry, so why should reading a book, or the scriptures or a commentary be self-indulgent?
The other advantage is that although the cafe is not in my parish, I have already seen, greeted and spent time with two different parishioners this morning – this is a place of encounter, a tent of meeting, and at this rate I could clean up on my visits… how often do you call and find no one home, and yet the reason is plain – they are here in this cafe! If ministry is to be truely situational, then these places of encounter are as important as the morning prayer I said this morning with the ladies who dust, and the location of the encounter is whereever the people of God [and more importantly, the people who don’t identify themselves as the people of God find themselves.
I do wish I had a cheaper mobile data connection, however; access via my mobile is fairly expensive and is based on bandwidth usage and so I am considering a bigger bundle. As more an more stuff is online, and access to the world’s theology is increasingly online and increasingly demanded from odd places, this might be the right way to go. The cafe’s own internet is, sadly, not free and even more expensive: it can be up to a tenner a day, and it has to be their provider and hence their cafes only, but a mobile modem could be anywhere, and not even in a cafe.
For an excellent PC-based scripture, I really do recommend e-Sword (www.e-sword.net) which has a host of translations of both Old and New Testaments (NIV, ESV, RSV, The Message etc), in all kinds of languages, including Latin, Hebrew and Greek with Strongs Numbers and information on translation, commentaries which are linked into the text and a very, very effective sidebar for your own notes, thoughts and in my case, sermon ideas. Most importantly of all, it is free. I commend it to you.
Hold on, I think I can hear another double espresso calling me…