Vicar's Letter - September 2019

Dear Friends,

You can tell a lot about a nation by the stories it tells.  And one of the first places to look for our nation’s stories is on the TV.  And then to ask the question: ‘Why?’

A typical night’s primetime viewing anytime in the last year might look something like this.

BBC 1: The Apprentice - an everyday tale of how a motley crew of highly ambitious people compete to change their lives by landing a lucrative job.

BBC2: Restoration Revisited - an everyday tale of how a motley group of unloved, decrepit, lonely old buildings compete to have their destinies changed through loving restoration.

ITV1: Britain's Got Talent - an everyday tale of how a motley crew of people, who think that they have some hidden talent, compete to become transformed into the next big thing in the entertainment business.

Channel Four: Grand Designs - in which people seek to design, build and furnish a home that will transform their daily lives.

Yes, we still have sport on TV.  Yes, we still have the news.  Yes, people are still murdering people all over the networks, at pretty much every hour of the day and night.  However, what we have more and more of at times that really matter are tales of transformation, tales of hope, tales that allow people to believe that things could be different for them.  Tales that help them believe that they could take on a challenge - eat a crunchy mix of Australian beetles, spiders and caterpillars without vomiting; take a bath with a hundred snakes; waltz like Fred Astaire or sing like Leona Lewis or learn parenting skills from a supernanny that would transform their home life into the warm, nurturing, conflict free oasis that it surely could be, if only…..

This focus on transformation, on the possibility of a changed life, of a dream coming true is the engine of the major talent competitions that seem to be dominating the viewing polls at the moment.  Why?

Perhaps it’s because that within each of us there is a deep yearning for transformation, a deep yearning to be recognized, and to be valued, even though, however well we think we can dance and sing, we share little in common with Fred Adstair and Leona Lewis.  But even so might we too, we wonder, still be capable of bringing joy and beauty into the world?

It seems almost too obvious to point out that nowhere will anyone find a more potent message of hope for personal transformation than in the gospel.  Nowhere will anyone find the capacity to live an authentic, significant life that transcends limitations of age, skill, background, gender, race, and status than a life lived in the power of the spirit of Jesus.  Nowhere will anyone find a more coherent basis for living such a new life than in the reality that people who give their lives to Christ are born again - new, transformed creatures.  Such a complete transformation is at the heart of what the gospel promises.

You can tell a nation by the stories it tells.  And the stories our TV tells are a cry for help, the howl of a thirsty wolf for water in a dry and barren land.  Sadly, much of this transformation TV is like a mirage of a lush oasis - illusory images of a place that cannot be reached.  But there is a spring of living water, shimmering high... it’s the Good News of Jesus Christ!



Yours in Christ,