Pew Sermon for Sunday 21st November

Hello everyone. Good to be with you on the pew-sheet once again.

It may not have escaped your notice that, however daft this sounds, and like the fictional Harry Potter, I have a bit of a ‘saving people’ thing. Which is not only a bit soft, but also rather oxymoronic, because as any six year old Sunday School smartie will tell you, it is only Jesus that saves. 

So, what’s going on with me? Illusions of grandeur? Just plain wrong about my calling and mission (to the point of soft-headedness)? Or is there something else here?

At this point in my salvic, paranoid and personal reflections, enter Sergeant Dilly (not his real name) of the Hampshire Constabulary, who kindly invited me out on patrol with him last Saturday. I am a volunteer police chaplain, and he was keen to show me what his ‘response;’ team can really do when needed! 

A schoolboy dream come true with the police car sirens and blue flashing lights? Well, be careful what you ask for, is all I can say:

The criminal classes were all peacefully dozing in their beds on Saturday morning, and Sergeant Dilly was cruising the streets, with me as passenger (yes, I was in the front! read on!)  and itching for a full demonstration of police response. 

In comes the call – Mrs X with bad Alzheimer’s and other infirmities has gone walkabout on her Zimmer frame, presenting a clear and immediate danger to all concerned. There are many routes the sergeant could have taken from A to B – some involving A road dual carriageways – but none, in his opinion, were the most direct or exciting. And so, the white-knuckle ride started, complete with assorted sirens, speeds, manoeuvrers, swerves – and often travelling on the wrong side of the road. After a local high street dash, in comes a further call on one of his many radios. Mrs X has now been found, sitting in her lounge with her feet up, with her carer, having a cup of tea! Apparently, the daughter had panicked (for various reasons), rung the police, and not bothered to actually ring Mum herself!

You know, our county roads really aren’t designed for that sort of travel! But travel they must if someone is in danger. So, I suppose, if I have theological illusions of grandeur about ‘saving people’, then the police chaplaincy is a great posting to experience those who really do have to do that heavy lifting. And often, it’s not a false alarm. Do please pray for them – they are the most extraordinary people: brave, professional, good-humoured, and compassionate. And they deal with the worse of human behaviour and situations.

Did all that make me re-assess my Harry Potter delusions, and maybe stick to accountancy? Not really. “Where duty calls, or danger, be never wanting there…” Maybe you could have that hymn at my funeral?

Of course, I don’t tell the family everything I get up to with the police. They just think I am a grey-haired old dotard with – err yes – illusions of grandeur. No point worrying them…

What has that got to do with Christ the King? Well, because life and death experiences are what seem to bind together last Sunday (Remembrance) with next Sunday (Christ the King) with (also) the Sunday after (Advent: Lo, He comes with Clouds descending).

Hope to see you all soon, so we can explore all this some more!