An unexpected blessing.

At the weekend my wife and I were invited to a BBQ in our friends’ garden. It was a wonderful evening, and great to see some old friends again -as well as making some new ones – after all the covid related restrictions. Our friends have this amazing grill in their garden at which everyone can sit and grill their own food, while chatting…and breaking the 10th commandment – thou shalt not covet your neighbour’s entrecôte steak.

After the meal, we all moved over to the campfire – ingeniously made from the drum of a washing machine! There the craic continued, with deep and moving conversations. Two of the guests that night were from Iran. We had met them before, a gifted and lovely couple who attend the Methodist Church that I used to pastor. They shared stories of their homeland and their family and the challenges of trying to make a new start in Germany. I was impressed by their German language skills – I know myself how difficult things are at first when you are learning the language.

Then Saman stood up to put wood on the fire, and I asked him if I could take a photo. I took a few photos in quick succession with my mobile phone, just to make sure that I had one that was in focus. I looked at the photos and my jaw dropped.

The first photo obviously had a slower shutter speed and it looks like Saman’s arm is actually in the flames. (I have Saman’s permission to share these photos online).

In the next two photos Saman is moving his arm, as if to wave. The first photo shows his arm covered in tatoos. One of the tattoos near his wrist is of a cross.

The last photo was the one that made my jaw drop. A piece of wood dislodged and fell in to the fire, sending sparks up into the air at the exact moment that I snapped the photo. Look at Saman’s wrist!

The slower shutter speed of the camera has captured the sparks in the shape of a cross on Saman’s arm. It actually looks as if Saman is giving a blessing. Wow!

Incredible. Fascinating. Uncanny. A sign?

Now, I know there is a perfectly rational explanation for the cross shaped light on Saman’s arm. It was purely coincidental that the camera lens just happened to capture the tracing of the flying sparks as they moved through the air in that way. And, believe it or not, I am not normally the one to find supernatural answers to natural phenomena. So this sign of the cross was really just a coincidence.

Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe today you just need a weird photo of a stranger to remind you that God uses the unlikeliest people and situations to bless you in unexpected ways. To show His/Her love for you…through the sign of the cross – the greatest symbol of love the world has ever seen. Maybe, indeed.

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