say what you see

The TV show Catchphrase is based on cryptic visual clues to well known words and phrases. It has its own catchphrase – “Say what you see.” But outside of TV shows politeness and manners seem to prevent us from being quite so forward. Unless you are a child.

I was visiting a couple in the evening recently to discuss their call to Baptist Ministry. When I arrived Dad was upstairs settling the two children into bed. I was shown into the lounge by Mum. While we waited for Dad to finish we heard small footsteps on the stairs and their seven-year-old son appeared in the doorway, informing us that his Dad had given him permission to come downstairs to see who had arrived. He took one look at me and said:

“I didn’t know you were bald!”

I was rather surprised – not as his observational skills but at his forwardness. I struggled to think of a good reply. The best I came up with was:

“I didn’t know you had hair.”

The instant reply came:

“I didn’t know you had ears!”

If I am honest I didn’t quite hear him so I just laughed. (If I had heard I would probably have explained that if I didn’t have ears my glasses would fall off.) After this Mum shooed him off to bed, presumably before he could make any other statements.

I found it hilarious that the young boy was so unafraid to say what was on his mind. He had none of the grown-up filters that we often apply (and which internet trolls seem unable to access) and simply said what he was thinking.

It reminded me this week of the moment when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. There was a mahoosive celebration going on that annoyed the religious leaders who were busy trying to plot Jesus’ downfall. Matthew tells us that when Jesus got to the Temple (the centre of Jewish worship in his day) he cleared out the courtyard that had been turned into a marketplace and healed people. There were some children there and they were shouting what they had heard the crowd chanting earlier: “Hosanna to the Son of David.”*

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “Have you never read: ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)

The children were unafraid, perhaps unaware of hoiw inflammatory they were being. They were simply joining in. One of the things that I regret deeply is how in churches (and society) we still seem to want to shush children’s voices and don’t encourage them to speak their mind. Because when they do, sometimes we hear God speaking to us.

And I reckon God would much rather we spoke our mind than pretended with him. Say what you see.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*This was not only a statement of praise, it was a revolutionary statement suggesting that Jesus was the one who was going to sort things out for God’s people.

organic music

I feel the need for some church-related silliness. These actually happened: I was there (as a teenager).

organ pipesA church organist decided to play some more contemporary ‘voluntaries’ in the services and discovered that some enterprising Christians had written some lyrics for well-known tunes. Sadly, few people in the church knew of the worshipful lyrics, so when he began playing ‘O Sole Mio’ during the offering many people smiled and wondered why he was playing the music and some asked the stewards for ice creams. (O Sole Mio was used to advertise Cornettos at the time).

On another occasion during a parade service he played the Match of the Day theme (to which someone had written lyrics ‘I want to give my life to Jesus, my Saviour and my King…’), breaking into the worshipful atmosphere and causing much merriment among the Boys’ Brigade boys (of whom I was one).

The most memorable, however, was when he played the Largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony during communion as the servers were taking the bread around. At the time that piece of music was the background to the adverts for Hovis bread. The pew-shaking and handkerchief-in-mouth-stuffing happened all over the church. Not the sense of reverence that was hoped for by the minister!

Be blessed, be a blessing (and don’t take yourself too seriously)