by Neil Hudson
(originally aired on BBC GMR, July 2005)
The best things in life always look least impressive and are summed up in the least number of words. Compare the understated elegance of handsome men or beautiful women which wins out over overblown bling-bling each time. Think about the single gold band round a finger of an older person which speaks eloquently of the years of faithfulness through the ups and downs of life more than any announcement in the anniversary columns of the local newspaper. Oh yes, for those of you of a certain age, you will have watched ‘Dr. Who’ again and remembered that the Tardis always so amazing because it looked like any common or garden police box, but then transformed itself into an amazing space ship when you got in. For those in the know the Tardis was always something bigger than it looked.
This week we have seen the highpoint of the white wrist bands that you will have seen people wearing for the past few months; a white band that said Make Poverty History, costing just £1.50 but expressing a hope that encompasses a whole continent. One white wrist band on their own never looked impressive, but put them together on the wrists of a quarter of a million people and suddenly it looks impressive and gives us hope that the leaders of the world will take notice.
This week we have seen the weakness of men and women trapped in underground trains praying that God would help them. In the midst of the tragedy the temptation is to panic, be fearful or revert to suspicion of everyone – and stoke up hatred of those who commit atrocities. But the message of Christianity is that there is a different way. That in the midst of our real weakness, we can find strength through God who comes alongside the fearful and the broken hearted; that the man dying on a cross embraces the sin of the world so that we can live again; that grace and mercy will triumph over hatred and revenge.
The church at the end of your road that you pass each day of the week may look a little forbidding and irrelevant, but it contains truths that are enough to change a world. You see there you will find people praying – what could be less impressive than a group of people acknowledging to God that they are not strong enough on their own to see the world change and that they need God to get involved. In this building you will see them worship a man who dies on a cross – what could be less impressive than a man on the cross.
But here you find power – real power, understated but real. New starts in life are given because of the actions of Jesus on a cross, more things happen on earth than we can imagine because people pray, and in worship we enter a world that is so much more alive than the ‘real’ world that the so-called sophisticated people call the everyday 9-5 world.
It’s not bling-bling thankfully, but it is real.