Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thought for the Day

As delivered at BBC Radio Bristol this morning. It was followed by much hilarity when presenter Emma called some vandals 'scrotes' and then asked round the studio if that was a BBC word or not. At which point newsreader Keith said it was the latest model from Ford and we all collapsed. Wasn't it an insult Fletch used on Porridge all those years ago?

Today is known as Maundy Thursday.

Jesus, eating the Passover with his friends the day before he died, washed their feet.

It was a humble act. That of a servant leader. Afterwards, speaking of what he had done, he is recorded as saying:

'A new command I give you. To love one another as I have loved you.'

The first word of that sentence in Latin is mandatum - many scholars think we get the word Maundy from that.

But where two or three scholars are gathered together there is often a bit of a barney. Others suggest that the name comes from a different Latin word mendicare - to beg. They say that the names of the money containers used by royalty to give alms to the poor on their way to mass this day, gave the day its name.

The great thing is that both acts are still emphasised. The Queen gives out Maundy money each year. Symbolic foot washing is still practised.

As Bristol considers the possibility of becoming free from corporate advertising we note that symbolic acts have power. Power to subvert and power to influence.

As do symbols. If I hold up a wooden cross there can be no doubt what I am alluding to. It is one of the greatest advertising symbols of all time.

But wouldn't it be great if a city, indeed a whole region, was to become known for its acts of generosity, humility and kindness?

Jesus said his disciples should be recognisable by their love, for one another and their neighbours. Well I'm a realist. It's not always that simple. But it may be a better advert for my love if I wash your feet rather than put up a poster.

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