River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Musings From The Methodist Manse

January 2001

Thoughts for January 2001

Dear Friends,

A few years ago, I agreed (in one of my weaker moments) to take part in a pantomime - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

For three performances, I donned costume and makeup and, with great dramatic flare (!), died on stage, to wait the arrival of my handsome prince and the kiss, which would awaken me. My dwarfs were, with one exception, all over six feet tall (to my five feet, one and a half inches).

Pantomimes provide a wonderful opportunity for us to laugh at ourselves and the extremes of human behaviour which are portrayed on the stage. Classic stories come to life before our eyes as wicked queens and handsome princes enact the battle between good and evil. And there is something very reassuring in the knowledge that the end of the panto will be a happy one. Good will defeat evil, lessons are learnt along the way and love has the final victory. It just wouldn't be right for a pantomime to end sadly: for the Giant to gobble up Jack before he could reach the beanstalk; and if Hansel and Gretel never escaped from the witch in the forest; then we would somehow feel betrayed by the actors. Pantomime works for adults because we know that everything will be all right.

But, watch a panto with a child who does not know how the story ends and then you see things very differently. I vividly remember taking my niece to see her first pantomime in Sheffield. They were performing Jack and the Beanstalk, and when we saw just the Giant's enormous feet coming through the curtains, Sarah disappeared shrieking under the seat. For her it was very real and no amount of telling her that it was all pretend on that occasion, would persuade her. A happy ending didn't even figure in her thinking.

As we look ahead at another year, it can seem very frightening and the characters we might meet are like the Giant, just large feet sticking through the curtain. We do not know what lies ahead and whether the ending will be happy or not. For Christians, the reassurance comes from knowing that whatever we face, we are not alone. God's promise is "I will be with you, even to the end of the age."

God can see the end of our story and has promised that love will have the final victory - for Snow White and her Dwarfs - and for us through Jesus Christ.

May God bless your year and may your giants be little ones!

Revd Jackie Goddard

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