Dear Friends and Parishioners,
I wonder if you saw on the television lately ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’?
Comically it reminded me of potential visitors at home, circa 1970.
‘Jean!’ ‘Winifred.’ ‘Jean, we could be with you tomorrow for lunch. Only eight.’
‘How is life in Hawick?’ ‘Yes, but …..’ ‘Sausage, mash and Sunday’s gravy. For four.’ ‘Would it stretch?’ ‘Only with a surgeon present.’ ‘Tea?’ ‘A week on Tuesday.’ ‘We’ll be back in the Borders!’ ‘ Nice to be at home…..’
My mother had a good way of avoiding the awkward. I have not inherited the gift. In the week before Christmas I gave lunch to five lots of god-children and their parents and grandparents; and at New Year fed, with much delight, many friends and many more in the days afterwards. I am actually a bit more sociable than my lovely mother. She, though, made everything from scratch: stock, bread, pastry…; I buy in and prepare, so carrots, greens, puddings and all the rest are made and frozen. Her blue eyes are always upon me!
But Preparation is indeed all. For some things we cannot of course make ready. But for much we can. And not just blanched Sea Beet (delicious and free), or proper boiled suet pudding!
In this New Year, with the lengthening of days, our bodies, minds and spirits yearn for something new. And in the Good News of Jesus Christ there is the forever fresh. Even if we feel simply done in, or are facing awful everything, His freshness is available. Lying in bed, at an Invitation, he will attend; needing a friend to help, He will be there. And shockingly, in the absence of Feeling, deep, deep down He is there.
Fourteen years ago I stared at death twice. Once would have been enough! After a ghastly accident which was entirely my own fault, life hung by a very fine thread. Through pain and no hope I was launched upon a sea of infinite possibility. And this was before nine months of relaxing morphine.
He is there. He is capable. He lives and He loves. And at rock bottom Jesus lives.
Is it so small a thing
To have enjoyed the sun
To have lived light in the Spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done….
From the Hymn of Empedocles by Matthew Arnold
Yours most truly,