Did Jesus wear a red waistcoat?

The Rev Eleanor Langan

The Rev Eleanor Langan - Credit: Archant

Going that extra mile (or even just a few yards) to help and reassure people is an echo of Jesus' actions, says the Rev Eleanor Langan

Have you ever been on a journey that made you afraid?

For a while my son worked in Tokyo and I decided to visit him. The flight was fine, but navigating my way round Tokyo terrified me. I remember being completely lost and in desperation showed the name of my destination to a lady.

Rather than give me instructions which I would not have understood, she turned round and accompanied me some distance back to an underground station. She even walked down two flights of steps to check I found the right platform. I thanked her (in English, sad to say!) and she gave me a gracious smile and went on her way.

I learned something from this encounter. I work in the Norfolk and Norwich and for many people coming into hospital is a frightening journey. It is not just the roads or the buses, but where to go once you arrive. In order to help them, we have volunteers whose role is to show people the way to a ward or to a department.

Before my Tokyo experience I might have thought that they could save time by giving out maps or telling people where to go. But these red-coated volunteers accompany them all the way to their destination in the hospital.

One volunteer I know did something more. Christine Fulcher is a wheelchair user and she met a lady who was afraid of heights who did not want to walk across a third floor walkway with glass sides. Christine invited her to hold on to the back of her chair and she led her across the space to where she needed to go. Despite her fear, the patient felt cared for and safe.

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I don't think Jesus ever wore a red waistcoat. But when He came to earth he did something similar to our volunteers. He did not hand out instructions to those he met or shout at them from the sidelines. No - he shared their lives and understood their joys and their sorrows.

I believe Jesus still accompanies us on journeys, whether emotional or physical. God walks by our side and shows us the way.

The Rev Eleanor Langan is a Church of England Chaplain to the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital