Skip to main content

Yummy Mummy?

1 Samuel 16.1-13
An advertising campaign for a famous perfume is urging us to buy perfume for a Mothers' Day gift with the slogan - “A Yummier Mummy”. I found myself wondering if this is entirely appropriate. Should we be encouraged to think of Mummies as 'yummy'? And who, exactly, is supposed to think that Mummy is 'yummy' anyway?

This week's Old Testament lesson doesn't seem entirely appropriate either. First, there is Samuel's disloyalty in anointing a new king while the old one is still on the throne. Generally the Bible is opposed to this kind of thing, urging us to obey the properly constituted authorities whenever we can. But, of course, there are limits.

German Christians traditionally believed very firmly in the idea of loyalty to their government, but this tradition was severely tested in the Twentieth Century. Their example proves that sometimes it can indeed be right to break the law as Samuel did. Eventually, in the 1940s, a handful of German Christians actually conspired to overthrow their government by force. Less controversially, it was Christian-inspired civil disobedience which later brought communist East Germany to an end.

Second, there is the issue of whether God judges by appearances. At first 1 Samuel seems clear that God does not. When Samuel sees Jesse's eldest son, a strong and mature warrior, Samuel naturally assumes that he is the one whom God has chosen to be anointed as the new king. But not so. It is the shepherd boy, whom his father had judged to be so insignificant that he didn't even send for him to meet the great prophet, who is the new king whom Samuel has been sent to find. However, the Bible wants to have it both ways. David may be puny compared to his brothers, but he is still ruddy and handsome, with beautiful eyes – a yummy kind of king after all!

Ephesians 5.8—14
Is this passage a none too subtle dig at values and mores of which the writer strongly disapproves and which he thinks are shameful, even though most people seem to live by them? Or is it really a plea for integrity?

So often our politicians are caught out doing things in private or in secret which they should be ashamed about if the stern searchlight of publicity were turned upon them. This seems to be particularly the case when it comes to the way they handle their expenses. What is called for here is the kind of integrity which Ephesians describes.

But none of us is without fault. How often do we allow ourselves to indulge in behaviour which doesn't fit with what we publicly profess to believe as Christians?

John 9.1—41
This passage raises some fundamental questions about Jesus and his opponents. Who is really living in darkness, whether they know it or not? And who can cast light on the situation and bring glory to God? Sometimes, as with the choice of David as the new king of Israel, things are not as obvious as they might first seem.

What we need, as we thread our way carefully through life's many challenges and pitfalls, is the discernment to recognise what is right and the integrity to do it.


Popular posts from this blog

I don't believe in an interventionist God

Matthew 28.1-10, 1 Corinthians 15.1-11 I like Nick Cave’s song because of its audacious first line: ‘I don’t believe in an interventionist God’. What an unlikely way to begin a love song! He once explained that he wrote the song while sitting at the back of an Anglican church where he had gone with his wife Susie, who presumably does believe in an interventionist God - at least that’s what the song says. Actually Cave has always been very interested in religion. Sometimes he calls himself a Christian, sometimes he doesn’t, depending on how the mood takes him. He once said, ‘I believe in God in spite of religion, not because of it.’ But his lyrics often include religious themes and he has also said that any true love song is a song for God. So maybe it’s no coincidence that he began this song in such an unlikely way, although he says the inspiration came to him during the sermon. The vicar was droning on about something when the first line of the song just popped into his head. I suspect …

Why are good people tempted to do wrong?

Deuteronomy 30.15-20, Psalm 119.1-8, 1 Corinthians 3.1-4, Matthew 5.21-37 Why are good people tempted to do wrong? Sometimes we just fall from the straight and narrow and do mean, selfish or spiteful things. But sometimes we convince ourselves that we’re still good people even though we’re doing something wrong. We tell ourselves that there are some people whose motives are totally wicked or self-regarding: criminals, liars, cheats, two-timers, fraudsters, and so on, but we are not that kind of person. We’re basically good people who just indulge in an occasional misdemeanour. So, for example, there’s Noble Cause Corruption, a phrase first coined apparently in 1992 to explain why police officers, judges, politicians, managers, teachers, social workers and so on sometimes get sucked into justifying actions which are really totally wrong, but on the grounds that they are doing them for a very good reason. A famous instance of noble cause corruption is the statement, by the late Lord Denni…

Giotto’s Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds

John 1.10-18
In the week before Christmas the BBC broadcast a modern version of The Nativity which attempted to retell the story with as much psychological realism as possible. So, for instance, viewers saw how Mary, and Joseph especially, struggled with their feelings.

But telling the story of Jesus with psychological realism is not a new idea. It has a long tradition going back seven hundred years to the time of the Italian artist Giotto di Bondone. This nativity scene was painted in a church in Padua in about 1305. Much imitated it is one of the first attempts at psychological realism in Christian art. And what a wonderful first attempt it is - a work of genius, in fact!

Whereas previously Mary and the Baby Jesus had been depicted facing outwards, or looking at their visitors, with beatific expressions fixed on their faces, Giotto dares to show them staring intently into one another’s eyes, bonding like any mother and newborn baby. Joseph, in contrast, is not looking on with quiet app…