Getting out of the station was a bit tricky it was one of those dark late nights in a town you have never visited. I eventually shared a cab to my hotel with some guy going my way.
The experience of the morning tells me the city is a soulless place with streets as wide as the Aston expressway and far too straight for far too long to be interesting. You think why did they not put a bend in the street? Then it struck me there was nothing here before or nothing of any note so you don’t have to go round it. The lady on the hotel desk tells me no one is born here they just end up here. It is not completely true but it feels right it does not feel like a town you want to be born in. Interestingly it is the only city I have been asked for money by people on the streets, and felt somewhat threatened by their poverty and request.
Before I came away I did some research for a church to attend and I found Houston’s First Baptist Church, look them up http://www.hfbc.org/ if you like this you won’t want to come to mine. I had to be determined to get there first on the bus then walk. For complicated reasons i missed the first two buses, although i was at the bus stop when they came, the girl on the hotel desk (not actually on it) thought I was Bear Grylls taking on such a huge task. $1.25 as opposed to $30 in a taxi.
I now when I say the place is big i mean it is fucking massive I mean very big like say The Birmingham Symphony Hall, but bigger, yes bigger. Let me put this into context my church when I went there it had no toilets in the year 2000 no toilets. This place here has a freaking six lane bowing ally i am not kidding a six yes 6 lane bowling alley. I am not even sure Jesus bowls. To use all the toilets in the complex you would have to have the runs for a year. It has got a basket ball court, no it has 2, everyone gets an office, a book shop bigger that most in any English provincial town centres.
This car park is bigger than Asdas at Minworth (i know that is a local, reference point but the next time you go to a major supermarket look at the car park and this one here i bet you a free bowl down the alley this is bigger) here is an even better one. Occasionally when we have a big or a special service i say a hundred people I ask Don to save a space for the Bishop if he is coming, so Don has been my car park man. Do you know who direct traffic here? The police. No I am not going mad the Houston City Police guns and all are on the car park directing traffic for Jesus. I can only get the local bobby to come when the bloody place is burning down or the kinds are running on the roof. I kid you not i am the only person out of say four yes 4 thousand, who is walking to church. I suppose i could have got shot for walking to church. That would please Jeremy Clarkson. The environmental factor of going to tell our Lord Jesus we love is phenomenal. Every time they have church here some sheik in the Middle East must send the pastor a gold watch. I am not sure how much more I can tell you without throwing myself out the hotel window. Now I know these are my brother and sisters but I am not sure I belong here. The service takes up the normal pattern song song song song collection sermon song alter call dismissal (with ordination of deacons thrown in)
I think this is my final point. Occasionally when I preach I use a visual aid, you know the sort of thing Jesus call us to walk a difficult road, so I pull out a pair of walking boots. Then go all the way out and get some slippers to say following Jesus is not like this but like this. (unless you have bunions or hate walking which thinking about it covers the elderly and the young not a good visual aid) Well when the pastor came to do his sermon, oh and don’t forget there is a 9 a 11 and a 6 o’clock service. As the pastor says his opening prayer, scenery from the roof is lowered into place within 20 seconds a mock house forms is on stage, just like any theatre, and thought I was clever with some bloody walking boots. You know what’s even worse poor old Jesus only had stories, parables, oh and a few miracles. There is more but I will go and make coffee now. Please continue to pray for me.