I like blogging! It is sort of different from preaching. I don’t feel the need to defend my thoughts, dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s.” I am quite happy to share things that I am trying to get hold of myself even if what I share leaves many questions unanswered. I am quite happy to live with that. I guess all of that is by way of defence of what follows:
Not long ago I listened to what is undoubtedly one of the most amazing musical compositions I have heard, “Cantata Memoria”, by Sir Karl Jenkins which remembers in an astonishingly moving way the disaster at Aberfan back in 1966. Along with many of you, I can remember the sense of horror that gripped us all when the dreadful news broke. The opening moments of Sir Karl’s work are an incredible painting in music of the lightness and carefreeness and playfulness that is meant to mark childhood combined with a sinister and foreboding sense of looming disaster. It is sheer genius. Later there is a disturbingly beautiful moment where the names of those who perished – so many of them children – are read out followed by the line, “Buried alive by the National Coal Board.” I am glad that simple truth is acknowledged in these few horrific words. Justice demands that fact should not be whitewashed. It almost was 50 years ago. It is so stark, so beautiful and yet so disturbing that I am not sure if I could listen to it again. That section may well have had more impact upon me even on one listening than any other music I know of. It is fittingly honouring to those it remembers, and yet it may prove to be a musical moment that I will listen to the least. If you can bear it, why not take a listen to the whole thing? I want to stress that the work ultimately ends with a moving from darkness to light, lest what I have said might make you think you don’t want to hear it! You can access it on line in various ways…
The next morning was Sunday Morning. Something happened that has not happened to me often over the years. The Lord put a name on my spirit: “Sophia.” When in the past I have experienced something similar, I know I have to be on the look out for someone by the given name. I went to church where there was a student minister, who incidentally preached a very good sermon indeed! He introduced himself and his wife and then his little baby daughter. Her name? Sophia.
I can’t tell you how I know what God was trying to show me, but I believe I do know. The name “Sophia” means “Wisdom” and somehow I knew that God was wanting me to think of what is said about Jesus as a child, namely that He grew “in wisdom, in stature, in favour with God and man.” I can’t prove this rigorously for the theologians among you – that doesn’t bother me at all – but I do know what God said to me was that His good and perfect will for childhood was not that it would be ended or cut short by Aberfan or by a thousand or more other heart-rending alternatives. He is a good God who cares for the sons and daughters of men and women. He wants children to grow in wisdom, in stature, in favour with God and people.
It is good to know that our God does not have only earthly time to work out that plan for childhood. Psalm 8 tells us that our God is the One “ whose glory above the heavens is chanted by the mouth of babes and infants…” Personally I believe the children of Aberfan continue to grow in the ways God intended and will continue to do so in even greater fullness when Christ comes again to bring fullness of salvation in every sense to spirit, soul and body. I believe right now they sing of God’s glory and over the last 50 years have become wiser than any who are reading this blog. That thought may be of particular comfort to some of you who have faced sadness beyond the norm that few have to face… if you are among such, may the God of all comfort, the God of all consolation, the God of all hope be with you, now and forever.
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