Sorry, darlings, all a bit religious.
The sidesman waved a port bottle at me. "Only *this much* left" she cried, which meant we might run out. It's my job to provide the communion wine, i.e. reasonably decent port. I sped off home to fetch the spare bottle I had in the larder. Unfortunately, it was sherry. There was a bottle of port, but it was extremely good 20-year-old vintage stuff. I hesitated, for several minutes. I looked again. No other option - and Weeza and Phil had borrowed my car, and there was no time to bike into town.
I decided. The good port would be used as the symbol of Christ's blood (no belief in transubstantiation in this blog, thank you). It was a waste, frankly, but in a good cause and it would be given willingly. I went out and locked the door.
Al was just going across the drive, and he came to greet me, grinning at the sight of the bottle in my hand. When I told him the tale, he produced his car key and said he'd drive me in to get another bottle. I genuinely had been going to give it though, so I think I've earned the points in St Peter's big book.
Dave* had to tell me his neighbour, David*, had died suddenly yesterday. He hadn't arrived to pick up a friend, so friend had called round and found him. I'd seen David on Friday afternoon - he grew salad and stuff for Al and he'd dropped in to the shop with a box of gooseberries. He'd promised to come back in the morning with half a dozen lettuces - but he didn't live to cut them. We're all shocked and sorry. The list of ill friends has continued to grow, too. There are so many people who have received awful shocks in the last few weeks.
I felt tense and depressed during the service. I've been losing it a bit - too much to do and too many people to worry about. However, I (unusually) had read a passage in the Bible this morning - St Paul's 1st epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, which I'll put at the end. And then, the Gospel reading was Luke Chapter 10, Verses 25 - 37 - which I'll give in a modern translation this time.
Okay, I'm no believer in signs and symbols, but all the same, I decided to focus out rather than in. It helped.
*honestly, both of them. All the best ones are called David.
Don't feel obliged to read them, the point is that the subject of both is love
St Paul's 1st epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 13
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, if I have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, if I have not love, I am nothing. And though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and deliver up my body to be burned, if I have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long and is kind; love envieth not; love acteth not rashly, is not puffed up: Doth not behave indecently, seeketh not her own, is not provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth: Covereth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. And when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall vanish away. When I was a child I talked as a child; I understood as a child, I reasoned as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. And now we see by means of a glass obscurely; but then face to face: now I know in part, but then I shall know, even as also I am known. And now abide these three, faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love.
Luke Chapter 10, Verses 25 - 37
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?"
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant[b] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[c] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbour to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”