Sunday, 16 April 2017

Easter in the office

It was Sunday morning in Jerusalem and the staff at Temple House, administrative headquarters for Religious Affairs, were making their way back to their desks after the short Passover break. They were doing so with some reluctance; last week had been particularly tough across all departments.

It had started in Finance; temple money changers had demanded compensation after someone had been allowed to run amok, overturning their tables. Next, Stewardship had complained that queues of impoverished widows carefully placing single small coins in the treasury were putting off the more prestigious High Value Donors; important men who appreciated neither the wait nor the smell. Around midweek, HR got wind that a man called Lazarus, whose sisters had just claimed welfare payments following his death, was apparently alive and well and walking the streets of Bethany.

Across the corridor, Safeguarding were investigating rumours that an unknown rabbi had been, in the words of a reliable informant, “suffering the little children to come unto him”. There was no documentary evidence of him completing the necessary training. Legal had spent half the week looking into what powers they had to restrict him.

Communications had faced their own problems, when local media published a survey claiming an alarmingly high proportion of Sadducees did not believe in a physical resurrection of the dead. Getting out their rebuttals wasn’t helped by a meltdown in IT. Half the messenger pigeons had come down with bird flu and Maintenance couldn’t promise spares until after the holiday. To top it all, the secretary to the Buildings Committee had spent hours refuting claims that somebody had submitted an application to tear down the Temple and replace it in just three days. “Does nobody realise how many months it takes to approve moving a candlestick, let alone throw up an entire new building, and with unconventional construction techniques?”, she’d exclaimed.

Anyway, today was the start of a new week. Much of the trouble had been traced back to a single maverick preacher. With some help from the Romans, he had been appropriately dealt with. After that the Passover had been fairly quiet.

Actually, like most Passovers they could remember, it had been a bit of a let down. Every year, in the build up to the festival, there was at least a frisson of hope that this would be the time when God would act to save his people. Maybe this Passover would not simply be a remembrance of long ago but the moment when a new deliverance would be accomplished. It never happened, but the annual tinge of post-festival disappointment could not quite be expunged.

And the new week wasn’t shaping up well. Reports coming in suggested unauthorised removal of a body from a grave; was it a matter for Faculty administration? Some witnesses implied there had been violence against the troops guarding the tomb; did this make it a Discipline matter? A woman now claimed to have seen the deceased; perhaps it was a ghost, as he hadn’t allowed her to touch him. Maybe Deliverance were the people to handle it. Still, in every office there’s a place where the complex and difficult problems nobody wants to deal with get dumped, and Religious Affairs was no different. After all, if somebody was wandering around the city carrying a three-day old corpse that had lost its burial wrappings, it just had to be a case for Health and Safety.

David Walker is the Bishop of Manchester.

Posted by David Walker on Sunday, 16 April 2017 at 7:00am BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: just thinking

Ha, bureaucracy rules, ok.
I've just spent Easter in Canberra, our national capital. I noticed on Good Friday that there were cars parked in the staff carpark of the Treasury building, a place where I worked. Overtime was lucrative.

Posted by: Pam on Sunday, 16 April 2017 at 7:45am BST

Ha, ha, very good. I wonder how they are going to deal with a dozen or so locals who appear to be drunk before 9 o'clock in the morning.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 16 April 2017 at 8:31am BST

Wonderful! What a great start to Easter Sunday!

Posted by: Janet Fife on Sunday, 16 April 2017 at 9:12am BST

Thank you for that and very much in tune with the message from the pope this Easter.

'Christians should put their faith in a God who “upsets all the rules and offers new possibilities” instead of resigning themselves to a world of injustice paralysed by corruption and faceless bureaucracies'

We always felt the Diocesan Board of Finance and the Diocesan Advisory Body were suspect.

Be it known that I've just replaced a screw in the knee board of our church organ without a faculty. The relief organist nearly got kneecapped during the first hymn so I felt it needed doing on Health and Safety grounds.

In the process I left the church door open and ramblers came in to have a look round while I massacred a few tunes to find the duff keys. I got to talk to people about the meaning and message of Easter without using an authorized form of words.

I await the wrath of whoever oversees such things imminently!!

Posted by: Lavinia Nelder on Sunday, 16 April 2017 at 1:19pm BST

At what point does humour become anti-Semitism and does this cross the line? How would we feel if the Society posted something similar about women not being capable of understanding Jesus’s teaching but being good at cleaning up the mess to his body afterwards?

It is undeniably humourous and the standard of writing is high, but I am left feeling it shows a certain lapse in judgement.

Posted by: Kate on Sunday, 16 April 2017 at 4:46pm BST

Nice. Another modern day parable.

Χριστός ανέστη!

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 16 April 2017 at 7:02pm BST

I've always thought this Bishop a good and nice man. But this contribution? Oh dear! Cringe.

Posted by: Neil on Sunday, 16 April 2017 at 10:37pm BST


Happy Easter y'all: contact the Health Dept, he is Risen Indeed!

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 17 April 2017 at 5:13am BST

Well it made my Easter - and I did need cheering up after a depressing display of apathy from far too many people. I loved it. Can't see how it's anti-Semitic. It's just a send up of the bureaucratic tangles we get ourselves into. I trust the Bishop's sermons are equally entertaining.

Posted by: Liz Brown on Monday, 17 April 2017 at 11:58am BST

I like it.

The Gospels meet J.K Rowling.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 17 April 2017 at 12:26pm BST

Amusing! I took it apart in search of the hint of anti-Semitism mentioned above, but failed to find it.

Posted by: Kathryn on Monday, 17 April 2017 at 6:20pm BST

A delight. 'Anti-semitic' - only if 'The Pirates of Penzance' demeans Mebyon Kernow, don't you think?

Posted by: David Rowett on Monday, 17 April 2017 at 7:14pm BST

If it's Anti-Semitism you are looking for then what about the third Collect in the BCP for Good Friday "Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word".
The Bishop of Manchester (or, alternatively, is he The Bishop to the Sunday programme on the Home Service?) is a great communicator of the Gospel. He was also very good and full of Easter enthusiasm on Easter Day's "Songs of Praise" with that marvellous open-air presentation of the Passion and Easter story in the heart of Manchester bringing the Greatest Story Ever Told to the people of Cottonopolis. But, O dear me - how few traditional Easter hymns were included in that particular edition. The item on the bell-ringing Julie MacDonnell was truly inspirational.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 18 April 2017 at 6:15am BST

"I took it apart in search of the hint of anti-Semitism mentioned above, but failed to find it."

The above is a representative comment found here.

The best test is to ask someone who is Jewish. The history of Christians and other non-Jews deciding on what is, or is not, antisemitic, is rather troubling.

Also, note the preferred spelling.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 19 April 2017 at 2:17am BST
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.