Brothers and Sisters

Only a few weeks after the brutal killing of Sir David Amess MP, I find myself less inclined than usual to mark Guy Fawkes Day. Part of me enjoys the fun, the fireworks and the opportunity for one last sausage and soup picnic before the year really is too cold, and part of me finds that which we are remembering is too close to the knuckle. Of course, we are celebrating the failure and not the success of Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators, but faced with this recent assassination, with the inevitable memories of Jo Cox and before her of the bombing of the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton, it puts me slightly on edge. And then of course, there are the dogs who are petrified of the “big bangs” and all those who, having escaped to this country from a place where bombing and shootings were commonplace may be re-traumatised by what we see as a celebration.

On the other hand, it is a very British response to tough times. We take them, we laugh at them, we subvert them, we make them into something else. Ring-a-ring-a-roses was a song about dying from the plague; Baa baa black sheep was about workers’ rights and Georgie-Porgie, Pudding and Pie was about inappropriate sexual demands made by someone who was too powerful to refuse. Songs that have become children’s ditties were originally reminders, teaching tools and a way of claiming back some power.

This upside-down, back-to-front way of seeing the world is perhaps a reflection of our understanding of the upside-down of Kingdom values; our interpretation of teaching that says “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you”, and takes the cursed death of hanging on a tree, mixes it with the ritual uncleanliness of blood, and declares it to be God’s way of washing clean the sins of humanity. Whether the back-to-front nature of taking the Great Fire of London and writing a song about it to be sung as a four part children’s round is in fact Godly, or simply a particular way of healing difficulty through dark humour, it is true that we are called to live in this strange world of God’s where the first will be last and the last will be first, where it is easier for a small child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than a rich and educated ruler and where the blind can be healed, but the priests and the Pharisees see less and less of what is going on.

What ever the case, when we see those sparkling fountains in the night sky, let’s send up after them a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus, the light of the world.

God bless, Vicci

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