To Read: Click on song title to watch a video
Memory, turn your face to the moonlight
Let your memory lead you
Open up, enter in
If you find there the meaning of what happiness is
Then a new life will begin
Memory, all alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again
Burnt out ends of smokey days
The stale cold smell of morning
The streetlamp dies, another night is over
Another day is dawning
Daylight, I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn’t give in
When the dawn comes tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin
Sunlight, through the trees in the summer
Like a flower as the dawn is breaking
The memory is fading
Touch me, it’s so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me you’ll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day has begun
From the Scriptures:
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him – that she is a sinner.’ 40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ ‘Teacher,’ he replied, ‘speak.’ 41 ‘A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?’ 43 Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’ 44 Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ 48 Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ 50 And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’
The theatre critics are still undecided as to what it was that Grizabella had done to be rejected by all the other Jellicle cats, but reject her they did. Was it arrogance in her younger days? Was it that she thought she could manage without them? Perhaps she thought that she was better than them? But whatever it was she finds it difficult, now that she is more ‘Griza’ than ‘Bella’ to find a place amongst them again.
In the end ‘Old Deuteronomy’, perhaps because the other Jellicles rejected her at first, (some never welcome her back) chooses her to be the one who is sent to the ‘Heaviside Layer’ to be reborn.
Like the un-named woman in Luke Chapter 7, she may have sinned much but she is also forgiven much, and so leaves in peace with her memories and the promise of a new day yet to be born.
How do we cope with those who, having left our fellowship, want to return? I have been in some communities where public humiliation is ‘de rigeur’ with the sinners not being allowed to be at the front of the church until public penance has been performed. I have seen others were removal from office occurs when a member does something such as ‘living in sin’ with a fiancé to be welcomed back with open arms once they are married, as if a piece of paper makes any perceived ‘sin’ vanish?
In this I have noticed two things:
First – the church reserves her most severe condemnations for those caught in ‘sexual’ and visible sins, and most often it is women who are named and shamed.
Second – the church is less diligent in calling to book the more dangerous sins against the body of Christ, notably gossip, back-biting, party spirit and so on. It’s as if we diligently enforce Galatians chapter 5 verse 19 and 21 but conveniently forget to read verse 20!
Those whom I have had the privilege to welcome back into the fellowship of Christ’s religion know all too well that they have wandered away. They are aware that they have hurt the rest of the family. They want to make amends. There is never any need for public humiliation or cold-shouldering.
My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. (Galatians 6.1)
It’s not just about the outcast coming home that we need to be concerned with. If we forget to be gentle we forget to be Christian and fall in to sin ourselves.
In ‘Cats’ It is interesting how it is the young kitten Jemima who joins Grizabella in her song and the younger ones lead the welcome home party. Maybe the older cats, the stone pillars of the church, have become too set in their ways, as had Simon of Arimathea, to love the penitent?
When that happens in our churches it is immensely sad.
We lose the possibility of offering redemption to others and die a little ourselves.
We have learned from you that we should treat others
as we would have others treat us.
Why is this one of the most difﬁcult lessons
in all of life for us to comprehend?
We continue to withhold love.
We deny mercy.
We steel ourselves against compassion.
Most of us will one day grow old, God.
Will we then be treated with love, mercy, and compassion?
Malcolm Boyd, United States
1) Share the Peace (or whatever greeting you use in your church) with someone whom you do not usually share the Peace with this Sunday.
2) Have a dig around in the bottom of your memories for any sin you have not made amends for and do something about it.
Encore: Click on song title to watch a video
The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat, and I suspect has have even lived in our vicarage on occasion. He is not so much a ‘curious’ as a ‘capricious’ cat. Which is what makes cat’s entertaining and the centre of the Internet…
However in trying to justify our failings in faith we can be just as capricious as Rum Tum Tugger. Listen to the song, laugh at his antics, and try not to imitate him to closely.
Prayers are from ‘Prayers Encircling the World’ and are copyright © SPCK: 1998.
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘A Song for Lent – 40 Days in the West End’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2018