My second day at the Anchor (MediaCityUK’s chaplaincy) started with an observational foray into what Hayley calls “indigenous Salford”. A visit to the local hospital provided a good way in to see what real life is like in the community around and outside MediaCityUK .
“All human life is here,” is a phrase which could be applied to most hospital waiting rooms. Like MediaCityUK, there is diversity and fluidity as people come and go. They also have to gain permission – to enter consulting rooms, to see specialists. They are essentially guests but with a very different agenda.
So as I listened to a myriad of accents and watched those of different cultures and ages and backgrounds, I was conscious of the hopes, worries, impatiences, challenges and joys that those around me might be facing as they waited.
A visitor remarked to me on my first day that “everyone at MediaCityUK looks shiny and healthy” – like they’d all been eating salad for lunch. Clearly at the hospital I was around people who were unwell but I did wonder – what did these people, waiting for answers, think of all the investment which had happened down the road. And, while clearly SalfordHospital is a well maintained, modern hospital, I wondered if those in the local communities were wondering “who invests in OUR community?”
Later, Hayley led a short service of Holy Communion at the University of Salford building in MediaCityUK. The readings were Mark 6: 30-34:
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
– and 2 Samuel 7: 7-17 – I was particularly struck by verses 5-7 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar? ”’
God goes on to say to David that he will establish a place for his people where they can build a home.
It is a while since my MediaCity visit, and I’ve procrastinated with this blog post, but two things particularly struck me at the time. The Gospel reading seemed to fit in with my current time of sabbatical, the need for rest and recuperation and finding balance while at the same time knowing that it will soon be time to return to the demands of full-time ministry.
The Old Testament reading seemed, to me, to fit in with Hayley’s situation. Although the chaplain has a base (The Anchor), maybe it is more important to be “moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling” – moving around MediaCityUK, sharing God with a diverse range of people and being willing to pitch a tent alongside the lowest and the least as well as the high and mighty, meeting everyone in the same way, listening and sharing, hurting and hoping.
Thanks for your hospitality Hayley and all blessings in your continuing work.