A stranger in a strange land

“We are Christians, and strangers on earth.
Let none of us be frightened;
our native land is not in this world.”

St. Augustine


(a surprise flock of deer in the middle of surburn Atlanta / Julie Cook / 2018
talk about strangers in a strange place)

Many years ago my aunt and I were taking an overnight flight from Atlanta to Milan.
This was not our first trip to Italy and I proudly figured that I knew just enough
conversational Italian to get us through any real language barrier.
All would be well I confidently told myself.

Yet in the back of my mind, I knew my aunt.
A panicker if ever there was one.

She knew the word equivalents to hello, yes, no, good-bye and stop.
She depended on me just as a blind person would depend upon a service animal.
I was to be her eyes and ears and mouth while navigating all over Itlay for the
next 3 weeks.
She was simply happy and content being along for the ride.
No thinking, no working, no figuring…just eating, drinking, shopping and seeing.
That was the extent of her comfort level when travelling.
No real thinking—just enjoying…while leaving the details to one more savvy
and experienced.
And in this case, that simply left me…

So what could possibly go wrong?

Arriving early morning in Milan, which was middle of the night Atlanta time,
and having flown for nearly 9 hours in a tin can in the sky with absolutely zero sleep
and limited nutrition…
We deplaned, made our way through the terminal, found our luggage,
then when trying to figure out where the train was located that was to take us into town…
well, I might as well have been hit on the head, suffering from complete amnesia.

Exhaustion was hanging like a thickly spun cobweb in my brain.
Panic was creeping up through my now rapidly and tightly closing throat.
I stood in the middle of the terminal looking around, trying to make sense, trying to translate
signs directing us where we needed to go.
It was as if my brain had gone blank and all that practice of asking in Italian where
the train station was located…as was now gone the time spent memorizing the map of
the airport…it had all instantly, completely and totally left me.

Yet I had to get a hold of myself as I didn’t need my 70-year-old aunt turning into
a wailing Henny Penny.
“GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF” I mentally screamed at myself.

And just as quickly as that sense of panic of a blank brain had engulfed me,
I clamped down on that boiling panic and calmed down… as I casually sauntered over
to the information desk asking the nonplused airport employee if they
“parli inglese”
and DOV’È LA STAZIONE CENTRALE?

And no that was not the end of our adventures during that particular trip…
but those are stories for another day…

It does, however, remind me of today’s quote by St Augustine.

A bold reminder that we Christians are strangers on this rather strange planet.

For we are indeed a strange people in a strange land.

Just like my aunt and I when we first arrived in Milan.
Strangers, much out of place, most uncomfortable and seemingly lost in what
was a new strange land.

I am currently grossly far behind reading and listening to both my two favorite
‘across the pond’ clerics, that it isn’t even funny.

This new role of grandmother, dashing around on the fly, with little to no sleep while
being out of pocket from my usual routine and home…
has me terribly out of sync here in blogland.

Yet I did manage to look over Bishop Gavin Ashenden’s latest musings which
actually starts off with a tale about Meghan Markle of all people—
that soon to be bride of Prince Harry.

It seems that Ms Markle has “agreed” to be baptized and subsequently confirmed
into the Anglican Chruch of England…as a gesture of graciousness for her soon to be
Grandmother-n-law who, as Queen, is known as the “Defender of the Faith” and “head”
of the Chruch of England.

The good bishop smells something a bit odious.

Not so much because of Ms Markle herself, who is obviously trying her best to now “fit in” into
her fiancee’s most British world as well as into his family…
but rather odious because of the Chruch of England itself.

As a Christian, I find it a bit odd, awkward and simply wrong that one would want to be
“baptized” as a child of God and in turn confirmed into a church body simply for the sake
of “fitting in”…
Not to mention the notion of a church body that sees such a life-altering decision as a mere
technicality.

I wonder if Ms Markle actually understands the implications behind what it means to
be Baptized–or as to the requirement of what is required of one who “joins” the church?

I wonder if the Church of England actually understands the life-changing and deeply
mystical experience that resides within the act of Baptism.

When we have a church body baptizing individuals as a means of helping one to fit in
or as a technicality…then I know we as Christians are indeed treading in a strange land.

And here is the dilemma for the Church of England.
A state Church wedded to a state that hates Christian virtue and Christian ethics;
a state that has begun to criminalise Christian witness as hate speech,
where police arrest street preachers and have them thrown in prison at the push of
a SJW’s phone button;
a state that has begun preparations to remove children from their Christian homes
if social workers detect what they improperly label ‘homophobia’ in the parents;
a state where Christian teachers are expelled and sacked if they do not endorse
the secular brainwashing on the fluidity of gender.

Meghan Markle, Justin Welby & The Use And Abuse Of Baptism.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,
who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
For what can be known about God is plain to them,
because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes,
namely, his eternal power and divine nature,
have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,
in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 1:18-20

23 comments on “A stranger in a strange land

  1. hatrack4 says:

    So many things… The photo reminds me of yesterday. Five young deer stood next to the road. For a while, we herded them to safety. … My only time in Milan was changing planes. The international terminal and the domestic terminal are in two different parts of the city. It was early Sunday morning and the buses had not started running. My boss and I finally got a local bus to the bus terminal (not yet open) and then the first bus of the day to the domestic terminal, running to catch our flight to Bari. I was teaching a class for a week in Taranto, roughly the heel of the boot. … In the Presbyterian church, we have infant baptism. I know that if I became a Baptist, I would have to be dunked, but my feeling on Baptism is that I was baptized by the Holy Spirit when I became born-again. No amount of water in a ceremony makes any difference in that. Yet, I see so many Pres. people who are among the living dead (Christian Zombies, if you will). They were baptized as an infant. They joined the church, because that is just what you did at that age, for me, 12. And the sad thing is that they are fine with that. The church has given them ‘membership’ and if the Holy Spirit is still trying to guide them to a life-giving path, they aren’t listening. Thank you for the post.

    • I was staying in Atlanta in what was dad’s house last week, now my son’s—I grew up in this house when Atlanta was still woodsy and not as sprawling—never did I see any wildlife other than a squirell—the other morning when I opened the shutters, there they were—I was floored because I know that the woods we played in when I was little have all but disappreard. This as the four deer played in a yard then wandered up the street.

      Italy is crazy as far as airports, etc…there was a transportation strike while we where there—we were in Assisi and needed to go to Rome—we were suppose to take the train—my aunt panicked and paid for a taxi to take us the near 3 hours drive.

      And I agree with your assessment–as an Episcopalian, I was “sprinkled” at 6 mos—later to be confirmed when I was 12.

      It was the baptism of the Spirit years later that “cemented” the deal—
      I will say that I always knew and was glad that as an infant I had been “christened” and I was more cognizant of my participation in the confirmation classes and service—but it was the Holy Spirit who I knew fanned those smouldering embers from infancy and youth into an inviting fire!!

  2. atimetoshare.me says:

    A flock of deer?

  3. atimetoshare.me says:

    Sorry but that just made me laugh this morning! Your post is so true. When we put religion in the same category as peer pressure or fitting in, we’re setting up for a fall. Even in those circumstances we can’t underestimate the work of the Holy Spirit. The act of baptism opens the door.

  4. Wally Fry says:

    @ Mark. Yeah, we are dunkers for sure.

    I remember once, after a vacation on the Adriatic Coast of Italy, we drove through Milan on the way home. It was nuts, nothing but an 80 MPH traffic jam.

  5. Wow. What a state the church is in… no words. Just need to pray, pray, pray, pray. Love you, dear Julie! ❤ ❤

  6. SLIMJIM says:

    “where police arrest street preachers and have them thrown in prison at the push of
    a SJW’s phone button;” that is becoming less and less of a hyperbole.

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