Open Air: Home Home On The Range

Here are Stephen’s recollections of last week’s Open Air.

It was good to be back after our break. I was most thankful that the rain held off, being limited to a few very light spots. I gave out in the region of 80 tracts but didn't really have any notable conversations with unbelievers.

I did, however, speak to two ladies called Addy (I'm unsure of the spelling) and Rachel. These seemed to be lovely believers. Although she had a few of her own, Addy took a handful of my tracts and proceeded to hand them out. They said that they would join us again. A little later on I spoke to two more ladies who were looking for Addy and Rachel but I did not get their names.

I pray that some or all of these ladies might indeed join us on a regular basis.

What can I add? Well, there were certainly encouraging words from various folk passing by. Even before we began, a tall, dark gentleman asked if he could take a picture of our poster. His English was none too good, so we were not exactly sure why he wanted it: “for his teacher” was my guess, though Stephen suggested that it might be “for his screensaver”. Anyway, he went away well pleased, taking a tract and a church leaflet.

I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to the ladies mentioned above, but I know that one of them was Janet, who has joined us before. She and a couple of the others (Sybil and Cynthia, I believe) are known to both Brendan and Peter.

The only discordant note was struck by two somewhat raddled (and intoxicated) ladies of indeterminate age who were protesting that the God in whom they did not believe because he did not exist had failed to save a relative from an early death…

Stephen was in good voice, despite having been a little throaty of late, going yet again from Creation to A New Heaven And A New Earth in the time that it takes me to deal with just one point.

When it was my turn, I found myself having to fight against the desire to soften what I was saying in order to make it more acceptable to those passing by. Why so? Well, you try preaching on “Seven Reasons Why God Will Send You To Hell” in the open air… However, the time for “Just accept Jesus” and “Say a little prayer if you want to be saved” is long gone. It’s a shame that it ever existed. All we have to show for it is the Latter Day Church Of The Largely Unsaved.

Towards the end, I noticed a gentleman across the tram tracks. He was in that same spot a few weeks ago, carrying a white stick to indicate, I presume, that he’s partially sighted. He nodded along with what was said, raising his stick every now and then as if to indicate a measure of approval. I spoke to him for a few moments when I was finished, and was most encouraged by his words.

That reminds me. During our final afternoon before the Christmas break, we were joined by a gent who accepted the invitation to come back with us to the Bagel Factory for refreshments. When we were seated, and I’d asked him about his church background (“a Zoom Fellowship”), he paused, and then said, with a serious face: “I’ve been listening to you for a few months now, and I think you said, some time ago, that you liked horror films…”

There’s a long way round, which involves an exhaustive exploration of The Christian And Culture And All Stations To Crewe. It’s enjoyable enough on a sunny evening when you’ve nothing better to do than to argue with autodidacts, holiness hobbyists, fifties fundies, and disciples of David Cloud… but I was cold and tired and I just couldn’t be bothered. How to close it down? It was easy. “Oh yes, that’s right - and I sold my soul for rock and roll.”

And that, indeed, was the end of that.

However, the Open Airs continue next Wednesday, God willing, at the usual time of 12.30pm, just on the edge of Piccadilly Gardens, opposite Superdrug. Please feel free to join us, and to pray for us and for any or all of those mentioned above.

Every blessing!

N.B. This is an edited version of the Salem Open Air Newsletter that goes out in full to those believers who wish to give their email address to our pastor, or to Stephen. This one went out on the Tuesday of this week. Since then, I have learned - to my amazement - that not everyone is familiar with the lyrics of the well-known Western song Home On The Range, originally penned as a poem by Dr Brewster M. Higley, and adapted by many and various artists since then. The chorus of the best-known version is as follows.

   Home, home on the range,

   Where the deer and the antelope play;

   Where seldom is heard a discouraging word

   And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Last Train To San Fernando, anyone? Let’s see the dust fly from the arms of those cinema seats!