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  • Ross Moughtin

What happens when things happen?

We were delighted to find a plaque. And so our American visitors, Dave Johnson from Christ Church Charlottesville along with his daughter Cate could pose for a photograph. “In this hall on 6thJuly 1957 John and Paul first met.” Yes, here are at the church hall of St Peter Woolton, taking our turn between the various Beatle tour taxis. “That was the day, the day I met Paul, that it started moving.” (Strangely those words could be spoken by innumerable people in the first century AD). By all accounts it seemed to have been a fairly chance meeting – although it is possible that some of Paul’s friends who knew John had set it up. But even so, it is one of those “What if?” moments. What if they had never met? But that’s life. How many random encounters, chance meetings, have altered the course of our lives? You may remember the 1998 film Sliding Doors in which the character played by Gwyneth Paltrow, experiences two separate storylines depending on whether or not she catches a train. But here we face the most basic question in life – are these simply random events which occur in a universe which came into being by chance? Things just happen because they happen to happen. That’s about it. Or do we see a pattern, a purpose? If so, what is happening? Richard Dawkins may argue that human beings naturally look for patterns. The question is why? Are we made that way?

Jesus, so to speak, bumped into many people. People he just happened to meet. Like the woman at the well. This encounter was not set up; it just happened, at Sychar. “Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well.” (John 4:6).

The unnamed woman went to the well at the unsociable hour on 12.00 noon. Her very aim was the avoid people. And she met Jesus. Her life was to be changed fundamentally for the simple reason that God was at work. That is how God works but at a level we simply don’t see let alone understand – although we glimpse this now and again in Godincidences. But they are the exception rather than the rule – for it is in the ordinary flow of life where God moves. So as ever in this open universe we are given the choice – how we decide to see reality. Random or purpose? Essentially it is either the one or the other. Amazingly it the cross of Jesus where we are to begin.

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