A NEW LOCATION
REV. BEN HARDING ON TRINITY’S MOVE
Ben Harding shares the news about Trinity’s new worship space and the advantages of our new location.
by Roy Carpenter, one of the wardens at Trinity Church
The Bible is full of stories of moving, but none is more important than God’s calling of Abraham in Genesis: “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.”
This is such a central event that numerous other speakers – Joshua, Isaiah, Nehemiah, to name a few – keep coming back to it by way of reminding forgetful people that God keeps his promises.
By the time we get to the book of Hebrews in the New Testament, we begin to get the idea: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
Trinity Church is full of people who have left their native countries and come to Lyon, but unlike Abraham, most of us knew where we were heading when we left. Some, however, did not. This was the case of a friend of mine who fled from Nigeria after her family was attacked by radicals who were angry about her father’s role as the pastor of a local Christian church. I only ever got bits and pieces of her story, but it involved a massacre, fleeing across Western Africa and somehow making her way to France where she sought refuge as an asylum seeker.
Although the bureaucratic process of getting her papers here was long and maddening, it seemed as though her days of not knowing where she was going were over. Then one day I got a call. She said she needed my help moving her to a new apartment. I asked when the move was planned for. Right now, she said. She had to get out of where she was immediately, within the hour. Why? I asked.
It turned out another member of our congregation had just been arrested and taken into custody on suspicion of criminal activity involving human trafficking. It wasn’t true, but everyone he had been involved with in Lyon – including my friend – were now potential targets of a police investigation.
When you have no papers, when you are a genuine ‘stranger in a strange land,’ that’s a risk you just can’t take. So we piled her belongings into my car as fast as we could and drove away before the police arrived. In the end, happily, no one was charged and life went back to ‘normal.’
For most of us, moving is a period when you’re in between homes. And even when you know exactly where you’re going, it can be traumatic. But when a move is not from one home to another, when it’s just out of one home to an unknown destination, it’s an entirely different story. And yet this story is at the very heart of the Biblical vision, woven into the fabric of the narrative from Abraham to Jesus himself, whose words came to mind as I drove a friend to a new, temporary accommodation: “foxes have dens and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head.”
So Trinity Church is immensely grateful to be moving to a place where good friends are waiting to share their accommodation with us. When all the lockdowns and curfews are finally over, we hope to meet you there, too