Anglicans sit at the back
Updated: Jan 22
Everyone knows that Anglicans come to church late, sit at the back and fidget during the sermon. The relevance was starkly revealed to me during a visit to development aid projects on a remote island in western Solomon Islands. We had spent all day thumping at high speed from wave to wave in an open fibre glass boat, airborne half the time, driven skywards by the 75 horse outboard - and now sitting was, to say the least, very uncomfortable.
Church services play a huge part in village life, and, since it was Sunday evening , I accompanied my friend to his local church. In character, I came in late and sat uncomfortably on the floor against the back wall. But I could not settle as the lengthy sermon progressed in pidgin. I mistakenly thought that no one would see me squirming in discomfort in the half light, but I was wrong. Halfway through the sermon, the pastor fell silent and motioned to a small boy who stood up and picked up one of the only two chairs in the building. Holding the chair above his head, the boy slowly made his way to the back of the church, where he silently placed it beside one slightly embarrassed but relieved visitor. Not a word was spoken and the sermon resumed forthwith.
This small act of kindness and the events leading to it are a microcosm of the organic nature of our actions and their consequences. The dedication of committed volunteers to helping our less-fortunate neighbours does not go unnoticed. Humanitarian aid, if offered humbly and in a spirit of genuine friendship, engenders a response of appreciation and reciprocal kindness. We may choose the anonymity of sitting at the back, but our action (or inaction) influences the people around us.