Q mark 4
unwanted gift
Great Yarmouth

A good question

I’m sure we can all think of presents we’ve received which have left us a little bewildered, maybe even disappointed. My mum recalls her grandmother receiving yet another unwanted present from her sister and commenting that she “needed that like a hole in the head”! For me the most perplexing present was the egg separator I got for my 13th birthday. I appreciated gesture, but also remember wondering “why did they think I would want that?”!

I imagine that the same bewilderment and disappointment sometimes trouble the people to whom we offer our genuine heartfelt acts of love and charity. However well-intentioned our offerings, I’m sure there are times when the recipients ask the same question “why did they think I would want that?”:

“Why did they think I would want a pair of gloves when I’ve already been given 5?”

“Why did they think I would want a sausage roll when I’m vegetarian?”

“Why did they think I would want to come for a meal, when I have to leave my tent and only possessions unguarded?”

And the biggest question “why didn’t they just ask?!”

I feel privileged to be part of the Great Yarmouth Homelessness Alliance which aims to improve provision for homeless people. One of the key aspects of this is that it is done in conjunction with the people who could be using the services: asking them questions, listening to the answers, and involving them in the planning and implementation.

This follows the model set by Jesus. When he encountered a man who was blind begging by the side of the road, he asked “What do you want me to do for you?” This not only avoided assumptions about what he might want or need, but also valued his crucial role in the interaction, as a person with choice and dignity. Similarly Jesus offers us a choice about His involvement in our lives. He says “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Jesus never forces His way in where he isn’t wanted.

Perhaps this week we could try and ask the question “what do you want me to do for you?” to people we would like to help. I would also encourage you to think about the choice that Jesus offers us and decide whether to open the door.

Q mark 3

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Mark 10:51