• gailphilip4

The privilege of the train

If you are travelling on a train (assuming you can sit comfortably, etc) you are in a very privileged position. You are being whisked through (usually) interesting countryside, seeing things from an angle that would almost certainly not otherwise be possible, you can look into private homes and gardens in a way that you probably wouldn’t welcome yourself, you might be warm while the people outside might be cold and wet, etc. In some poorer parts of the world the relative privilege of the train traveller would be extreme. If you watch documentaries about the Indian railways you will understand what I mean. If you are very wealthy you might be on The Royal Maharajas Express passing through a settlement of families living in make-shift shacks within a few feet of the tracks. In parts of Southern Africa at many of the station stops you will see from your window dozens of street vendors – many children – trying to sell you trinkets (or simply begging for money).

Of course, there is a limit to what we can do politically and economically to change things in poorer countries, though we should note the role of charities like The Railway Children. But we can be suitably humble!

When I was about 11 we were waiting in a train about to depart. I very thoughtlessly threw out of the window some rubbish. It happened to fall by a person standing on the platform. Wow! This man was not pleased! He picked up the rubbish and motioned to me to take it back. I cowered in my seat praying really hard that the train would move away.

Experiences like that fix in your mind the mistake, indeed the sin, of pride and arrogance. For me as a child to think that being on a train conferred special privilege, so that I could treat the outside world with contempt, was just so awful.

Jesus advised that if you go to a wedding feast don’t assume you will sit at the top table. Take a lower seat and then let your host invite you higher (if you’re so lucky!) (Luke 14:10).

Paul wrote: Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Philippians 2:3)

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United Benefice of Leighton-cum-Minshull Vernon and St. Leonard's Church, Warmingham

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