Psalm 16, 17
1 Thessalonians 4:1–12
Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling… Isaiah 3:8
In June I landed in Beijing, hungry for a sense of this city. Walls of people rose before me as I grabbed my pack. My taxi raced into town. The famous breakneck pace, heat, humidity and air pollution were all, as warned, extreme.
Beijing also held surprises. Every street was lined with gracious trees and beneath them, I glimpsed signs of Old China: mops and twig brooms used vigorously past their “best-before” dates; hand-washing slung between windows and doorways and across worksites. Elders beside teeming thoroughfares perched on little folding chairs, surveying, discussing. Drivers, oblivious, napping in their busses and moto-rickshaws.
At Tiananmen, pounded by heat, I knew I must turn back to the hotel, or quickly find air-conditioning. First I had to brave the souvenir sellers clustered outside the massive Square. Parasols, hats, trinkets, ice cream: please buy, please buy! I struggled through, clutching my water, making for a seat in the shade.
After a time, a woman sat down beside me. Speaking quietly in Mandarin, her meaning was: “Look. You are hot, and I can help. See my excellent fans (pulled from plastic bag, demonstrated). Buy one. I will give you a deal.”
Did I buy because I was too hot? Because she followed me? Because her eyes held kindness, or because she, like me, was no longer young? Certainly she saw me truly: in need. Beneath those gracious trees, beside that plaza of ceremony, bloodshed and power, I welcomed Messiah in this fan-seller, and, as my yuan became her yuan, I felt her welcome Him in me.
– Julie Poskitt