Grumbling, cowboys and burdens
Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 15th April 2018
Our Vicar, Mike, is a fan of football, and more specifically supports Watford. Yesterday Watford FC were up here, and Mike and a number of the congregation had a box at the game. Huddersfield beat Watford 1 – 0. I knew that Mike was bound to mention this in the sermon, so I was alert during today’s service to see where that would be.
On the way down to church, Linda and I passed a man walking up the hill. He had at least two day’s stubble on his face and wore a distinctive hat. He stopped to speak. I was dreading him being a Sunday morning beggar (we were nearing a Methodist chapel on our way) I was pleased to be wrong.
“I used to be a cattle herder,”he said happily, indicating the hat, which was curved up at the sides. It looked like a stetson only not as tall and with a narrower brim. He showed me inside the hat. “It’s an Australian cattle herder’s hat, he said, removing it and showing the maker’s name.
“Did you herd on horseback?” I asked.
“No, but I did have a very yappy border collie who did most of the work.”
We said goodbye and passed on our separate ways. What significance this had on the church service I was about to attend I have no idea, but it was a pleasant conversation and put me in a good mood. It also shows how wrong first impressions can be.
In church Mike took the service and preached the sermon, based on Exodus chapter 16 where only a few weeks after seeing God work in the plagues of Egypt, only a few weeks after seeing God work in parting the Red Sea, the Israelites were grumbling. “We’d be better off in Egypt.” Better off as slaves? Grumbling does not get better than this. Yet despite this God was gracious
Mike said we like to grumble about all sorts of things, the weather, football… The mention of football got a laugh.
He fast-forwarded to the New Testament, after the feeding of the 5,000. The Jews understood that what Jesus had done with a boy’s packed lunch was connected with the manna and quails in the desert and wanted to be fed always. What they missed is that although the connection was right what they should have been seeking was Jesus himself, not food. We too should be seeking Jesus too.
Yes, I believe Mike was right in saying we all grumble, I do. But I regularly get accused of grumbling and criticising when all I believe I am doing. Keeping quiet in order to be nice to people feels like lying to me, and I’m uneasy about lying. Another Asperger’s trait that I am aware of. I can’t see people seeing me as not being a grumbler any time soon.
Finally, an extra this morning. during the opening worship songs, John felt the Holy Spirit was saying something to him, that someone in the congregation was carrying a burden and seeking peace. We were reminded that even when things are not going well it is still important to rejoice.
And that’s it for this blog. I still have no idea what the significance of meeting with the cattle herder was.