I had been living in Constantinople for about one and half cycles of the sun and I hadn’t lost sight of the idea that Andrew and the other disciples wanted me to spread the love-thy-neighbour message.
Eventually I told our temple-going neighbour Feza, about this. He looked a bit surprised. ‘None of that is at odds with what our temple teaches. If you’re really keen about this you could talk to my local elder and see if they would be willing to take this on board. They could reach many people all in one sitting, whereas I assume you only reach a few people in the marketplace.’
I thought about this. ‘But it might help if you went to more our local services more regularly first. At least the elder will know you as a sometime-member of his temple.’
Eventually the elder recognised me enough to nod and acknowledge me. When that happened, I went back to Feza. We went and had a coffee with the elder and Feza explained that I had this message which he felt fitted with temple philosophy.
The elder listened without saying much and I could see the surprise on his face. ‘I certainly like the idea and I certainly like the message and I certainly like your suggested application of it.’
It turned out that there was a hierarchy within the temple structure. ‘I might need to talk to my nearby elders and get their views. Then when we go up the line, a number of us are supporting the idea.’
As we walked away, Feza said, ‘I think you would do extremely well to keep going to temple. I know you don’t get much from it, but right now, that reinforces that you’re serious about this.’
A while later the elder approached me after a service. He had talked to his colleagues and they really liked it. My elder had then escalated it up his line.
After nearly three cycles of the moon, my elder cornered me again after a service, ‘I’ve had a message back. They have agreed to incorporate this into our services. All the temples in Constantinople will be told to include it.’
I was stunned. Lost for words but grateful beyond words.
I duly went along on the first day and sat right at the back on my prayer mat so I could observe what happened. At the beginning, the elder said that we now have a slight addition to the service. They all took that on board and the service chugged along; chant, chant, up, down. Then we got to the new bit.
Even though I was expecting it, the words jolted me. The first reaction was like a wave going through the gathering because of the jarring unexpectedness of it. They were all listening with real concentration. The silence was intense. It was only short but the words were fantastic. Gosh, I wish Jesus was here; he’d love this. Or even Andrew and his mates.