March 2019: From the Minister's Frying Pan
A long time ago before right thinking came to town it was not unusual to find doctors being entertained by drugs companies to promote their products. This wasn’t a quick chat in the waiting room after hours. It was in a plush hotel with a lavish meal, expensive pens and stationary and there was a ‘plus one’ to come and enjoy the hospitality. Sara and I went to one of these nights with Sara’s then Practise in Bristol. While the ‘Doc’s’ were away at the brief lecture (ten minutes) I idly asked one of the seasoned spouses what the drug did. They were quite taken aback by this enquiry and while they didn’t actually say it the tone was ‘who cares’.
Shocking really, people turn up for the feast but have no interest in why it’s happening. A bit like Christmas really. But that’s gone or rather it’s coming in December. But there is another feast due that has a similar success rate for engaging people, Lent. “Many will enjoy the pancakes but how many will endure a Lenten commitment” said the Bishop to the Chef.
I was very taken with a story last year at Ramadan. Practising Muslims of all ages across the world observe Ramadan. For one month, they fast between first light and sunset. But what do Muslims do in a town where the sun never really goes down?
The town of Rovaniemi in Finland lies in a land of extremes. At 66 degrees north it straddles the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland. During midwinter it is cloaked in total darkness. But in the summer it is bathed in daylight. For Shah Jalal Miah Masud it poses a little problem, he came from Bangladesh five years ago to study IT and he is 28. In Ramadan he goes 21 hours without food and water and when he was interviewed he laughed at his predicament. Apparently for those in such difficult terrain you can use the time at Mecca (in Saudi – roughly a twelve hour day), but the hardliners say you must follow where you are based. Masud, when asked why he didn’t move out for Ramadan and study somewhere with more darkness, said ’It’s right that someone should be celebrating Ramadan in Finland’.
Lent should be a doddle compared to the above. After reading this the Bishops words sound even more powerful, even more of a challenge. I hope each of us does something for Lent this year. Christ is worth it and it is an aid to self control. It helps us value faith a little more and think of his sacrifice for us. Lent should be celebrated in the Methodist Church.
By the way the ‘drug dinner’ was for a blood pressure medication.