Thought for the Month (June 2013)

Dear Friends,

When is the news ever good? Certainly the newspapers, radio and television, not to mention the internet, have been full of bad news over the last few weeks. Collapsing buildings are part of the price paid for cheap clothing, so maybe there is something we can do about that. But what about the horrible kidnapping which almost defies belief in the state of Ohio in the US, or Stuart Hazel the man who belatedly pleaded guilty to murdering his partner's granddaughter (twelve year-old schoolgirl) Tia Sharp, having previously denied it?

What are we to make of all this? Both problems concern people just not knowing what was really going on, either in a house or in someone's mind. Neighbourliness is our duty, as Jesus tells us in the story of the Good Samaritan. But, you may say, it was all very well for the Good Samaritan; he could see the problem clearly lying in the road in front of him. He could hardly avoid it, although the two other passers-by managed to: the rotters! But it is not always so easy. How do we know what goes on behind closed doors? Nearly all of us must have wondered, at times, if all was well "next door" but hesitated to find out. And sometimes, there seems no reason to do so anyway. We may say, when we read the news about the cases I have mentioned, "how on earth could people nearby not have known what was happening?" Well, they didn't know; and there is no reason to suppose those neighbours were much different to us.

We also wonder how people, particularly women, can be such poor judges of male character that they do not suspect a man who has evil intent toward a child, and who then acts on it. We are told "not to judge" but that cannot possibly mean being thoroughly dim and taken in by anyone. We certainly need help here, and we have to ask for it.

What can we learn from the Bible? The Book of Proverbs indeed advises us not to be constantly dropping in on our neighbour, in case they get fed up with us! Read Chapter.25 v17. But that cannot mean show no interest; just to be discerning! This book does contain some wry humour. Elsewhere in Proverbs we are advised not to call out early morning greetings to our neighbour too loudly; maybe in case they have had a bad night, for some reason?! It seems to me we are being steered towards sensitivity which is the exact opposite of indifference. We need to pray for help that we can get it right, and that God will guide us into the right course of action at the right time.

But, what about the Good Samaritan, again? If we look at him more closely, we can learn more. He must have been a person who was trusted, and had a good reputation, in spite of being a Samaritan, or else the inn-keeper would have turned them both away. The implication for us in that is rather obvious. Although not maybe expecting disaster, he was also rather well prepared! He had oil and wine in his saddle bags. He knew where the nearest inn was. Sounds like the guy had a bit of the Boy Scout about him had Boy Scouts existed in ancient times! This is something we can work on. Be prepared! Do we know the right telephone numbers to ring if we are worried? Do we take an interest in the current emergency services and various charities that help people in distress, here and now, in this country? Do we realize that many of the unfortunate souls who are "trafficked" pass through our county of Kent because of our proximity to sea ports?

As for help in judging character, can that be our "homework"? I intend to search the Bible for help here and will be interested in what anyone else finds.

And, if you ever need it, the NSPCC supports the Child Trafficking Advice and Information Line; their 'phone number is 0800 800 5000.

May God bless us all,

Mary Nolze (Rusthall URC)

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