Genesis 49 v 1 – 28; Matthew 4 v 18 – 22
Right at the start of the lockdown I dragged an old rotten, rusty garden bench from under the hedge at the bottom of the garden. My first thought was to scrap it, burn the rotten wood and put the cast iron ends on the drive for the scrap man to collect while doing his rounds. On looking more closely I decided that with major surgery perhaps we could salvage some of the bits and restore at least half of the bench into a single seat, after all on television they rescue items from a tip and sell them on for vast sums of money, could we do the same with my garden bench.
One of my grandsons said that he would like to help so on the first convenient day, after ‘on line’ school work had been completed, he arrived at my house to commence work, two metres apart.
First job, I said, is to cut the timber slats from off the cast iron ends, and I gave him a hand saw. The bewildered look on his face made me suspicious so I said, have you ever used a saw before? No was the reply, he had not, so we started with the health and safety, went on to how to hold a hand saw without losing fingers, how to cut on the downward stroke and how to keep your left hand out of the way, (he’s right handed and was wearing gloves). It was a nervous start but by the end of the afternoon I had enough off cuts to keep the log burner going for a month.
Day two involved drilling holes at either end of the shortened wooden slats so I gave my grandson the power drill, but I noticed the same look as with the hand saw. Have you used a drill before? No came the reply, so we started with the health and safety, went on to how to hold the drill without making holes in his favourite trainers, how to fit the drill bit into the drill, how to make sure the drill was rotating in the right direction, and how to measure to make sure the hole was is the correct place. It was a nervous start but by the end of the afternoon if anything didn’t move it had a hole drilled in it.
Actually, he did amazingly well and described it as being like a Tech lesson at school, but it brought it home to me, that any simple job is only simple if you know how to do it. If you don’t know how to do it or if you don’t have the right skills the job is far from simple and appears to be impossible.
I read once that the indication of a good musician is that they make playing a difficult piece look easy and I think it is the same when anyone has a special skill, they make doing something difficult look easy. I can recall while on holiday, all members of my family tried turning a clay pot on a wheel. We watched a demonstration by a potter first then we all had a go. Mine was a disaster; it reached fifty millimetres high then collapsed in a wet sludge all over my feet. Turning a clay pot is not easy.
My working life started as an apprentice bricklayer and the first brick arch that I ever built fell down just as dramatically as my clay pot on the wheel, into a mass of bricks and mortar. I had set the timber former wrong in the first place so when I removed it the whole arch collapsed with it. It took me days to build it, but it failed due to mistake at the very start. Ten years later I was teaching first year apprentice bricklayers at Bradford Technical College and we always made sure the wooden former was fitted correctly before we started building the arch.
So it’s not just a matter of having a skill or knowledge, it’s also a matter of learning from mistakes and passing on that awareness to others to avoid similar mistakes by others in the future. This principle is particularly significant when relating it to Remembrance Sunday thoughts and reflections.
Throughout the Bible we see examples of skills and knowledge being passed on from teacher to student, and from one generation to another. In the Old Testament, where there was no written word never mind ‘Wikipedia’ (Internet) , the history of the Hebrew nation was passed down through the generations by word of mouth and remembered through festivals and traditions.
But it is in the New Testament that we witness the skills, knowledge and wisdom being passed from teacher to disciple, from disciple to believer, from believer to missionary, and from missionary to the nations of the world.
Jesus taught the disciples, corrected their mistakes and through the Holy Spirit gave them the skills that they needed to take the Good News of Jesus Christ to the nations of the world, to all people.
This was not a simple task and would have appeared to be impossible to this group of twelve from Galilee, but nothing is impossible to God and through Jesus Christ.
So now it is our turn to pass our knowledge and understanding to the next generation, if not through word of mouth then by example, our life style, our behaviour, our teaching and sharing our beliefs, openly standing up for what we believe is right, and sharing the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Did you know that Winston Churchill found peace and relaxation through bricklaying? He built a garden wall in his family estate.
I really enjoyed working with my grandson on the resurrection of my garden seat. Sharing his enthusiasm and those, ‘ Why don’t we do this, grandad?’ moments, but I have to admit that I was relieved to deliver him back to his mother with all ten fingers, ten toes and no sticking plasters.