Talking Point – July 2021


I SAW a brilliant meme (think of a snarky internet joke picture*) a couple of years ago. It had a picture of the Dark Knight suited up in all his muscular superhero glory and the words, “My boss told me to dress for the job I wanted. Now I am sitting in a disciplinary hearing dressed like Batman!”

That image has never left me, probably because I was once part of a group who threatened that if we had to wear preaching gowns for an event, we would run around flapping them and shouting “I’m Batman.” Which, like the poor soul in the meme, would have been a severely career-limiting move. But I think it has really stuck with me because of the idea of dressing for the job you want. Preparing yourself for a yet unrealised possibility. So, what would it look like for us all to dress (or live) for the world we want?

If we look at our planet: the climate is in crisis, someone is always blowing someone else up in this or that war, children are starving, people go their whole lives without any real opportunities, thousands of people are out of work because no matter how hard they try they are likely to be overlooked because of this or that meaningless stereotype (including, ‘they have been out of work for too long’). The planet we live on does not look much like ‘paradise’, and unfortunately, it is all our fault. Humanity has not made the planet any better, or worse, we haven’t made the ‘world’ we live in any better either. So, can we live for the world we want?

One of my favourite images in scripture is the voice from the throne of Heaven at the end saying, “I am making everything new!” This is a promise that means (and I apologise for the shameless film/John Lennon quote), “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

We could read this promise as an inevitability (in the end) and go about our lives without doing anything about it, or we can take responsibility for ‘dressing’ for the world we want.

The government and big businesses will do what they can in the areas they can to make the world a better place at times. But they aren’t particularly well-positioned to seize the opportunities that an end to COVID lockdowns present, but we can. We can ‘dress’ for the community we want, the relationships we want, the street we want, the planet we want. And, we can encourage each other and hold each other accountable to do the same. Never underestimate the power of hundreds of small gestures. Live into the new world you want to see. I think that is Jesus’ invitation to us today, and the opportunity as we look to a pandemic changed world creating a new equilibrium.

by Martin Beukes, Methodist Church in Caversham

* the word meme is used to describe an idea, behaviour, or style that rapidly spreads from person to person in a culture, typically using social media