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Imagining the Lectionary: Stay Alert (Proper 27A; Ordinary 32A)

Reflection accompanying image “stay alert street living statue mime artist

So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive (Matthew 25:13)

This living statue mime artist was making a valiant effort on the cheap to mimic the look and demeanour of the very best exponents of this street art form. I really admired him for having a go in public like this and for enduring the complete disinterest of the majority of passers-by, when down on the pavement his red plastic bucket was still woefully short of contributions.

I wonder what he expected Was acknowledgement from one in a hundred pedestrians enough, one in fifty, one in a thousand Or was it about going on for as long as it took to collect enough cash in the bucket to buy a meal Or was the essence of this performance that it was primarily some sort of gift, an act of art independent of being seen, appreciated or responded to?

What makes this activity worthwhile as opposed to worthless And how are we to know for sure, or make such a judgement? Is this mime of intrinsic value, or should we measure its success or failure by what was put in the bucket? And how can the mime artist know for certain that someone might not yet come along a put a £50 note in it? It could happen. Only he will have a sense of how likely it is based on his past experience. But even then he can't rule it out, however improbable it might seem.

The difficult question of how long one perseveres like this in public before calling it a day is a pertinent one for disciples of Jesus. For many struggling churches the complexity and perplexity of it is something they grapple with constantly.



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