Over the past year there have been increasing stories of abuse and bullying in the evangelical church in the UK. It’s not confined to the more public cases in the CofE, but is also found in the independent church. The church is often described as a hospital, after all, Jesus came for those who are sick. But sadly we’re seeing people leaving local churches and denominations more damaged and broken than when they went in. Perhaps some reading know this all too well. That is not how it should be.
At times it can feel overwhelming. When we’ve finally broken free of an abusive relationship the sense of relief is palpable. It’s like emerging from a dank tunnel, sucking clean air deep into our lungs after almost suffocating. Sometimes you can be in those relationships for so long that you’ve forgotten that there is any other reality. Slowly but surely hope begins to be restored. You finally get to a small taste of that sweet ‘rest’ that seemed so elusive before.
But then in one of those moments of peace a thought comes to you. It whispers – ‘remember those who still suffer’.
The time comes in life when one thinks ‘now is the time to read Lord of the Rings, cover to cover’. You find that comfy armchair, brew a pot of leaf tea, light the fire and settle down with Part I, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’.
All is going well. You’re surprised at how old Frodo is when he starts his journey, but there’s adventure, danger, 2nd breakfast, laughter and intrigue.
Then there’s Tom Bombadil.
I can’t be the only one who’s been stopped in his tracks by the bouncy, yellow-booted singer of odd songs. In fact I know that I am not. When the BBC produced their audio adaptation they cut him out, as did Peter Jackson. You could imagine that if this book were written today the editor would be sitting down with the author saying ‘John – this Tom Bombadil stuff? It just ruins the pace. Let’s skip to the Prancing Pony and leave Tom to his faldi-diddlying’.
Last night, however, I decided to brave this section once more. I was determined to find meaning here, to discover the purpose of such an enigmatic and seemingly slow movement.
Our eldest is 10 years old and worrying… again. She worries about almost everything. But this time she’s worrying about sin. She’s realising that she’s a sinner and wants to uncover every last bit of her sin. She remembers moments from yesterday, last week, even last year when she stuffed up and feels the guilt. Her mum patiently sits, listening, speaking, comforting, praying.
Then there’s a pitter-patter of feet. Our 5 year old gently sidles up to his mum and whispers a line from one of my songs (and the Bible!) in her ear, “say – as far as the east is from the west…”
I’m a songwriter, and more latterly I’ve been focussing on writing songs for children (and adults who are listening in). It’s been an interesting journey getting to this point and my belief in the power of song to speak and embed truth in children has only grown.
(contains spoilers!!) I have come to realise that I have something of an aversion to tragedy in stories. I know deep down that these stories are the gourmet meal of art. And yet, when I sit down and choose a film or book to read in an evening, I’m not sure I want to […]