If rain turns this weekend’s Glastonbury festival into a mud bath, it won’t be the fault of the organiser. Before they reach the festival site, Michael Eavis intends to break up any rain-clouds with a ‘cloud-buster’. Looking like an anti-aircraft gun, the contraption is pointed at the clouds and extracts deadly orgone radiation, turning the clouds into rain over someone else’s land.
Life, like the festival, would be generally easier if we could stop potential trouble before it gets to us. If we do see a cloud on our horizon, it’s always worth trying to divert it. Often, though, such difficulties can’t be foreseen or if they are, they can’t be prevented. What’s important is to try and retain control.
Trouble hung over Jesus for the whole of the last few years of his life. He used wit and diversionary tactics to sidetrack aggressive questioning, kept away from the more dangerous areas of the country and made sure he chose the moment to face what was coming to him.
Christians may feel they’d like some of the wisdom of Jesus to rub off on them or we may have friends who can help devise ways of keeping on top of what threatens us. Rainy days are probably inevitable. But as those who go to Glastonbury generally discover, a variety of ingenious methods can minimise their effects.
The doctor and astrologer Nostradamus was born just over 500 years ago. He became extremely wealthy by foretelling the future to members of the French court. According to one tradition, he discovered this ability when he informed a neighbour that he would see two blackbirds on his way home. ‘Well,’ reported the neighbour afterwards, ‘I’m not sure how many there were but it was certainly black.’ From this unpromising beginning emerged 6,300 predictions taking the world up to 3797 and including, supporters claim, prophesies of the rise of Hitler, the assassination of Kennedy and the death of Princess Diana.
People today also want the security of knowing what the future will bring. Some read their stars because they feel that if they know what is going to happen, or if they are able to prepare themselves for crises that might emerge, they will feel more secure.
The coming of Jesus was seen as the fulfilment of prophecy. But he offers a different kind of security. Those who believe in him feel safe, not because he tells us what will happen, but because his life and death are a commitment from God to be with us whatever the future holds.
In any worries we may have today about the future, knowing there are people around us who will support us through whatever happens, is more important than knowing what might happen. Nostradamus made his money by telling French royalty their future but God’s presence with us, and the backing of our friends, is a more reliable form of security.