This week’s thought has been written by John Goddard, EBA council member and Minister at Saffron Walden Baptist Church
Embrace the mud!!
My sons didn’t expose me to much opportunity to gather on the touchline whilst they played sports-ball, with my generous taxi service more often being needed for chess tournaments and choir rehearsals, rather than football and rugger. I am however aware of some of the tricky dynamics of being appropriately supportive without loudly discussing the referee’s parentage or suggesting that your little darling hospitalises the opposition striker. And the fact that such options come to my mind probably means I ought to have a word with the excellent Richard Shorter at https://non-perfectdad.co.uk/
However, one aspect of supportiveness to a sporting child that had completely passed me by is wonderfully illustrated in a recent advert Vauxhall have been using for their Crossland X SUV*. To the tune of the Hippopotamus song (Flanders and Swan, ‘Mud, mud, glorious mud…) happy children play rugby on a sodden and muddy pitch. After the final whistle the happy kids, by now utterly filthy, head towards their watching parents and their pristine SUVs! You see the moment of dawning realisation on the parents that these disgustingly dirty cherubs are about to climb aboard the pristine Range Rover or sit on the beautiful white leather seats of the Jag. Water bottles are used to ‘hose down’ and shopping bags strewn across the seats, but the parents are clearly not happy. All except the no nonsense driver of the no nonsense Vauxhall…
The advert didn’t convince me to buy an SUV, but did remind me of a story told by Tony Campolo, the wonderful Italian-American Baptist preacher. Campolo was on a plane** and noticed a young child who was clearly excited. ‘I’m going to see Daddy, I’m going to see Daddy!’ But there was a plane ride to negotiate first, with attempts to calm the child down with sweets and juice, and of course excitement, sweets, juice, and air travel can mean only one thing – the child was spectacularly sick just before landing. As Campolo was walking through arrivals he could still hear the child – ‘I’m going to see Daddy, I’m going to see Daddy!’ Walking towards them was a man in a pristine white linen suit, and the child was covered in garishly pink vomit. What would you do? The child was picked up and hugged and whirled around, and no doubt the suit was ruined!
What sort of a God do we have? One who enfolds and embraces us in all our filth and mess. One who enfolds and embraces without stopping to make sure the child is loveable and clean. One who comes down into our world of mud, and in a no nonsense yet costly way demonstrates that we are loved extravagantly, graciously, abundantly.
What sort of people does this God call us to be? Our no nonsense discipleship is about living in the reality of the love we have been shown so that we might love others as we have been loved. Amen?
*The advert is on YouTube, but my use of the ad should not be interpreted as approval of the product! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ypawbiICxg
**This is my recollection of the story – he would have told it better!
Thank you to everyone who is joining in with our week of prayer, resources and links to the meetings can be found here
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