Deal or no deal

Once it was just a game show in the afternoon with Noel Edmonds and a bunch of people stood behind a load of boxes.  The mysterious person on the other end of the phone, the banter with Noel, the desire of the person to make sure that their box contained a fantastic amount of money, all added to the tension.  Would they accept the Bankers’ deal and if they did and when they pulled that red tag and revealed what was in their box, would they have made the right decision?  Noel asks the now famous question – ‘Deal or no deal’ – and then often, tantalizingly, would cut straight to the adverts and we would be left, me included, doing the ironing in front of the tele on my day off, hanging in limbo – would they do a deal?


Fortunately most game shows don’t become reality.  We see elements of ‘Blankety Blank’ around, there is a continuous ‘Generation Game’ going on, and yes, things can often seem ‘Pointless’.  But no one would have predicted that Noel Edmonds, all hair and jumpers, would become a prophetic figure (though I suppose John the Baptist was all hair and camel coloured clothing)!

But we are now living the game.

A couple of summers ago, on the beach, I read the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy, a series of dystopian novels by Suzanne Collins. In those books a game show is a reality show.  Communities compete for food by sacrificing their young people harvested in a process of selection called ‘The Reaping’.  The books, though intended for a teenage audience, are disturbing because of the way in which the game becomes the reality – and the trilogy is about how this is all resisted and defeated.

So, thinking has been done around a ‘No deal’ outcome at the end of the Brexit process and this week has seen the publication of the first 24 of a proposed 80 papers setting out the implications of ‘No deal’. For some reason we were told that the BLT sandwich would be safe (I hadn’t realised that was also in danger) but that medicines might not be and credit cards might not work so easily and … and …

On the news some people in the street were asked what they thought. Most of the opinions broadcast were that they didn’t believe anyone about anything.  That was for me the most depressing thing and the greatest sadness of the political turmoil we are going through nationally and internationally.  No one is trusted, there is no longer a thing called truth and we don’t believe anyone.  So how will that work?

Perhaps I’m just a naive fool but I have always lived on the basis of believing people and trusting them until I have evidence to convince me otherwise.  It’s a great shock when you realise that some one has been lying to you, that some one you thought genuine and honest has been taking you for a ride – but we have this great presumption of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and I have applied that across to other things.  Perhaps I have been wrong.

It’s like some horrible game that we are in, except that it is reality and that it is all our lives that are in the box before us on Noel’s table!

Things were not always easy for Jesus.  We see that in the Gospel reading that I have been thinking about in preparation for Trinity 13, the conclusion to the long passage from John 6 that we have been reading at the Eucharist for the past four weeks.  The chapter begins with the feeding of the five thousand and then moves on to Jesus speaking in the synagogue in Capernaum about himself being the ‘Living Bread’.  Those who eat of this bread – his flesh – will never be hungry; those who drink of this wine – his blood – will never be thirsty.  A dispute breaks out.  People cannot accept what he says – after all, he is known to them and so what is this talk about coming down from heaven?  He’s from Nazareth! And then the language of flesh and blood is crude, offensive and too much to take.  It is so bad that some of those who had been following him walk away.  they can no longer follow him, they can no longer believe in him.

Jesus looks at who are left and in one of the most poignant moments for me in the gospels asks

‘Do you also wish to go away?’ (John 6.67)

It is Simon Peter who answers on behalf of the others and with words that I keep coming back to every time faith becomes a bit too hard, every time priesthood becomes a bit too demanding, every time disappointment knocks my confidence

‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ (John 6.68)

There is no one else, Jesus is the only one I can trust and believe and follow and give my life to and I know, I know, that he will not let me down and that he will feed me and quench my thirst and be my shepherd and be the door of the fold and be my light, my resurrection and my life and be everything that he promises to be, that his words are not just trustworthy and true but they are eternal words, that span heaven, that span time, that define reality.

So like so many of us I don’t know what to believe about ‘Deal or no Deal’ (though I’m still a proud Remainer) but I know what to believe about Jesus. In him I trust – it’s just the others!

Lord Jesus,
eternal and life-giving Word,
walk with us through the uncertainty of life
with the certainty of your love.

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Southwark Cathedral Pilgrimage June 2015


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