A Child's Funeral
All around us, as we share the service together and lay the tiny coffin deep within the earth, the priorities of our world will continue. People will go about their daily work, their shopping, and their gardens. Newspapers will lay on the kitchen table, with headlines about war in Syria, President Obama, or the Royal Family.
For us, at the graveside, all the world will come to a standstill, just for a minute or two-there will be nothing more important than a small box and a few handfuls of soil. It seems like a parable on the subject of perspective.
Our perspectives for those fleeting moments will be unreservedly clear. Nothing else will matter. And then, of course, we shall return to what we call a ‘normal’ life, where perspectives are seldom clear and often hopelessly distorted. Before we know it, perhaps, the great and small issues of our days will take over, and it will be the price of petrol, or the continued rising deaths in Iraq that disturb our peace of mind.
Jesus accused some of the religious teachers of His time of ‘straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel’ - a very vivid way of saying that they’d got their priorities hopelessly out of perspective. Yet who, in our media-saturated world, really knows which are the gnats and which are the camels? What really matters, and what is of minimal and passing importance in the light of eternity?
In our moments of clear perspective, when our priorities are obvious, the values that tend to emerge are love, commitment, kindness, courage and hope. It’s when the tawdry agenda of every day takes over; celebrity, sport, news and gossip (which are often much the same thing), that we cater to the partisan, to cruel and unthinking words, and harsh, judgemental opinions.