Brief encounters, those sliding door moments that in an instant completely shift a life direction.

I have had a few. My Queen’s Park journey began with one. As an impoverished bible college student, I parked up in a free parking spot just off Glasgow High Street. It’s no longer there! This must have been known in the Christian community, as a youth pastor friend drew up alongside me. He asked how I was doing and if I needed accommodation for the incoming term.

I did.

In fact, I had run out of options.

“Great” he said “You can move into my place in the Gorbals. It’s free provided you do a bit of caretaking for the local Church of Scotland.”

And, he said, somewhat prophetically,

“It’s an easy walk to Queen’s Park Baptist”.

The rest, as they say, is history.

This week we are in Hebrews 7 as the author introduces an international-man-of-mystery Melchizedek. Melchizedek enters God’s story via a “chance” encounter with Abraham. (Genesis 14:18-20)

Abraham, fresh from an astonishing victory over a confederation of tribal overlords, bumps into Melchizedek. I imagine, that high on the joy of victory and the spoils of war, it would have been more than easy to keep on walking home and to miss the encounter. Yet, Abraham stops, and an interruption turns into a blessing.

At age 15 Therese of Lisieux gave herself wholeheartedly to God. Her spiritual insights gleaned over 9 short years (she died at 24) have enthused and informed Christians ever since. Her focus on giving God small everyday acts as an expression of love became known as the “little way.” She focused on turning the trivial incidents and interruptions of the day into what she called “little flowers”. She described her focus on looking for God in the interruptions of life:

“This is how my life will be consumed, strewing flowers, that is, not allowing one sacrifice to escape, not one look, one word, profiting by all the smallest things and doing them through love.”

I wonder how often I might miss the blessing of God because I am too busy rushing to the next thing, or too focussed on a particular task.

Its too easy to view people around us as interruptions or annoyances. Especially those who frustrate us or block us from getting what we think we want.

Yet Abraham stopped in the middle of his victory lap to get a word from a stranger. More than that his encounter with this mysterious individual foreshadowed the blessing that God would bring in the person of Jesus. Perhaps Abraham even saw in him an expression of God’s promise that he would provide a sacrificial lamb to take away the sin of the whole world?

Talking of missing what God is doing. Did you know that today (Thursday 9th) is the most overlooked and bypassed day in the Christian calendar? Yes, today marks the Ascension of Jesus to the place of glory and authority with the Father.

Forty days from the resurrection Jesus ascended into heaven. Luke records:

Acts 1:9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

The point is not physical elevation as is often depicted (Jesus’ levitating into a cloud). Rather it is positional (like a king ascends to a throne) depicting Jesus as exalted in authority and honour. The clouds speak not of height but of holiness. Jesus enters the “Shekinah” the shimmering sacred glory of the presence of God.

Hebrews pulls this all together by reminding us that.

Hebrews 7:24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them.

So why not take some time this Ascension Day to give thanks for Jesus who is interceding on our behalf, exalted at God’s right hand and look for his blessing in those annoying interruptions.