It has been good to be part of EMC over the last few days – especially during the book fair! I have sensed a real enthusiasm and fun. Despite all the pressures we have got on well and achieved a great deal. A comment overheard was, ‘What a good church this is’! I know we should neither boast nor be complacent but ….
Emily (my third youngest granddaughter) who is Year Two (top infants!) was telling us about the Golden Rules of her school as she stayed with us at the beginning of the week. They were something like this: We respect others; We are honest; We are gentle; We work hard; We are kind and helpful; We look after property; We listen. They all seem very sensible and encouraging! Ben (my youngest son and an infant school teacher) has a lovely way of responding to his older sisters’ teasing, he asks them, ‘Is it kind? Is it true? Is it helpful?’ These are the questions he normally uses with his reception class! I know that we are far more grown up than these questions imply, but it is not unknown for Judith to challenge me in my grumpier moments with Ben’s questions. Both Ben and Emily put me in mind of a lovely page from the book by Robert Fulghum, ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten’
“These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten)
1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don't hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
6. Don't take things that aren't yours.
7. Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.”
It reminds us, of course of Matthew 18:2-4 (NRSV)
2 He called a child, whom he put among them, 3 and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever becomeshumble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I have never felt that Jesus’ teaching was based on a sunny view of little children. Little children can be little tyrants! But it is based in a fundamentally positive view of what children can be and a realistic one that they are sometimes not. In this we as the Church are not so different. It is our experience that God genuinely believes in us, believes in our capacity to get it right. It is also our belief that we can get it horribly wrong and God knows it! It is the sharp distinction between what we might be and what we sometime are, that is the heart of our understanding of the Cross. I’m never wholly comfortable with some Christian’s emphasis of the Cross of ‘a just God demanding sacrifice’. It is certainly a way of talking about the mystery, but not always the most helpful one in my view. I am however moved and encouraged by an understanding of God’s love ‘so amazing so divine’ that God dies for us to bridge the gap between what we are designed to be and what we sometimes end up being. Such love ‘demands my soul, my life my all’.
Jesus’ ‘Golden Rule’ was about love. He not only taught such love, but he demonstrated it on a cross and thus gives us the chance of living it as well.
Thank you for your fellowship, encouragement of each other and care.