Yesterday I was preaching at Harston Baptist Church - a village church just south of Cambridge. It was their 230th. Church Anniversary and the congregation of 70 plus really celebrated (with a great bring and share lunch afterwards). Because I wanted to emphasize the theme of 'Jesus the King' in my sermon, I told a children's address about my six year old grandson Anton who won a BBC Blue Peter Competition to design a stamp for the Queen's Jubilee. The prize was to gather with other winners for tea at Buckingham Palace with the Queen. I think I blogged a post at the time - it was such great fun hearing him tell us of the secret doors in the palace, and how the Queen had come up to him and told him 'Your design is fabulous!' Of course, in retelling the story I emphasized the much more overwhelming experience of meeting King Jesus and living in his story over 230 years.
After the service an older couple came up to me. He introduced himself as Ian Loe a former student at Spurgeon's College but said he really wanted to comment on my stamp story. 'I don't want to boast,' he said chuckling, 'but I also have been to the Queen because of stamps! I have designed over 550 stamps since the 1970's'. His wife chimed in: 'He was awarded the MBE for his work!' Apparently Ian is one of the world's foremost wildlife stamp designers with a particular focus on butterflies. A large volume was recently published of his work. What a delight it was to meet him in a small Baptist church!
Later, over lunch a lady told us that her son had a friend whose boy also entered that same competition. When they showed the winning designs on TV he saw his but a different name had been attached to it. It required urgent correction to ensure the right designer met the Queen which they achieved in time! Had I been preaching successive weeks I think I could have made a series out of congregational stamp stories! You just never know a congregation's stories. That's one of the reasons why I plead for preachers to be good listeners and collaborators!