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Showing posts from July, 2006

You Can't Always Get What You Want

When I was young I was a hit with the girls! So much so that, at age two, I was invited by a little girl to her birthday party. She was about four or five years old at the time, and she made it known to her parents that her idea of a dream party would be to have me come along as her guest of honour, which – because I was cheaper than a magician or a trip to the cinema – I duly did. She was not alone at the party, of course. There was a whole gaggle of her little girls friends in attendance too, and I was the star attraction. For a time they attended to my every whim and found it amusing to follow me around wherever I went, allowing me to do whatever I wanted to do. But then they discovered a snag. I wouldn't settle to anything. If one of them picked up a skipping rope, I wanted to skip. If another one picked up a balloon, I wanted to play with it. If someone had a doll, I must have that doll right now. And after a while – of course – they got tired of me, and I had to be rescued b…

Death Be Not Proud

Over the last two weeks, the anniversary of the 7th of July – and its aftermath in Beeston – brought to my mind John Donne's poem,
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so.
The poem is a declaration of faith and hope in the face of all that might otherwise cause us to despair. I remember the words being read out at the end of the TV adaptation of Olivia Manning's novel 'Friends and Heroes', part of her trilogy of books about life in the Balkans during World War II. The scene is an old tramp steamer full of refugees fleeing from Greece as the German army invades. The engines have been cut and the ship bobs silently on the waves, hoping to evade detection by the encircling U-boats. Even the passengers hold their breath, fearing that – at any moment – a torpedo might be skimming across the waves to blow them all to pieces. And then, in the stillness, as the sunset casts an orange glow over the sea, the hero of the no…

Touching and Being Touched by Jesus

In this week's lectionary story [1] we see some extraordinary scenes of high drama. First a leader of the synagogue falls at Jesus' feet and begs him for help, not once but repeatedly. How undignified! What must the other villagers have thought?
No doubt some sneered to see him brought low, but others must have felt sorry for him. His daughter wasn't really little. She was twelve years old – almost a grown up by the standards of the time. So, unless she was remarkably short, the expression, 'my little girl' has got to be a term of endearment, a sign of the man's great love for his daughter. Later, Jesus borrows the same turn of phrase himself when he goes to heal her.
The story contradicts the idea we sometimes have that women were not valued in the ancient world. Here we see that fathers could love their daughters every bit as much as they loved their sons.
As the scene unfolds, a woman turns out to be so ill, and so desperate, that she is prepared to sneak up on…