Thought for the Day : Wednesday 18 November

Thought for the Day by Hayley Matthews (All Hallows’)

Readings: Daniel 9:1-19 and Revelation 11:15-19

It may surprise you to know that Shaun of the Dead is one of my top ten films (swearing alert if you decide to find out why). An hilarious apocalyptic film about a Zombie invasion set in English suburbia the real genius of the film is not the comic timing woven within the horror genre, although that is pretty much perfect, but the beautifully nuanced caricatures so quintessentially recognisable as you, me, our Mums, Dads, Aunties, Nans and best mates reactions in a crisis as to be sublime.

Two of my favourite quotes are these: ‘would anyone like a peanut?’ from an overwhelmed Shaun, who has taken on leadership of the team but without a concrete plan, he falls back on to mere niceties which may gain allegiance but would prove far less effective against the ever-nearing threat that surrounds them. Wonderfully understated and civil, his words contain a world of unspoken panic and a huge need to be liked – hero worshipped, even – rather than lead effectively.

The second comes from Shaun’s friend, Ed, when he reasons, ‘he’s going to be dead either way’. In short, no matter what decision is made next, there is only one certain outcome.  But what can this possibly have to do with our readings from Daniel and Revelation this morning? In short, Daniel is a leader prepared to face the people with the real and terrifying consequences of the people’s refusal to follow God. Daniel is the one prepared to forgo popularity that he might call for repentance to once again fill the prayers and hearts of God’s people. He dares to use the word ‘wrath’, one that we avoid like the plague. Yet all we need do is think about some of the injustices that we have seen and some of the vulnerable who are most hurt by them in order to catch a glimpse of how and why God’s wrath might be ignited on a fairly epic scale should we dare to add these injustices together.

Revelation, on the other hand, reminds us that there is one certain outcome. Whatever decisions we make, with whomever and however, the one certainty is death. It comes to us all and not one of us know how quickly, painfully, peacefully or unexpectedly it will be. COVID has brought this face to face with this in our everyday lives. We might not like to hear these apocalyptic words for they are undoubtedly uncomfortable, but if we are to arrive at Advent ready and willing to humble ourselves before God, ready to prepare ourselves that our creator will once again be visibly incarnated within the Body of Christ – not just at Christmas, but through the new era that this pandemic is heralding in –  hear them we must.

  • Let’s sit quietly before God and be open to hearing where God’s wrath may be directed in our world today.  Try to resist thinking about ‘them doing that over there’ being willing to look consider what is happening in our own backyard.
  • Let’s think about the call to repentance which all Christians bear responsibility for – not, like Adam, to say, ‘it’s not my fault it’s her fault; she gave it to me,’ but to be mature enough to take on responsibility to repent over the atrocities of all humankind whether or not we are directly complicit in them.
  • Let’s consider ways in which we could not just repent in prayer but make restitution, profoundly and permanently changing an unjust institution or societal discrimination
  • Let’s pray for the leaders we need who will not offer peanuts for blind followers, but tough love for tough times in order that all might live fully in the light of the coming Christ. Amen.

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