Faith at Work LXXIII

August 2010

Let’s go back to decimal – following 2 in June and 3 in July, it makes sense to move on to 4 this month. So what comes in fours? When demand dropped heavily last year at the factory I visit, there were a variety of measures taken to keep employees busy, including extra training, improving efficiency, tidying-up, painting, reducing shifts, reducing days worked per week, releasing the temporary staff and contract workers and finally the dreaded redundancy programme. One thing that has come to stay is the four-day week during which the normal complement of weekly hours are worked. As well as concentrating the power usage, it has meant three-day weekends. People have gradually come to recognise the value of that compared with the extra long days that precede it, although catching up on Monday from all the unanswered incoming calls the previous Friday is not so readily accepted.

Four is the number of the seasons, not the seasons of the Church’s Year, but those of the secular year. We are now officially in summer; the sun has shone; strawberries have been eaten at Wimbledon; exams have finished and results are filtering through. We can take a break before the autumn arrives with a new school year and a lot of new activities. It marks the time when we often take a holiday, eagerly awaited but gone in a trice – that’s what happens when you’re enjoying yourself, so they say.

Four for the gospel-makers” is another line that comes to mind from the old English counting song “Green grow the rushes, Oh”. The symbolism is a bit mixed and obscure in places, but I remember it being sung around the fire at scout camp and the like – is it still? At least, it gives a few clues about our religious traditions and sometimes the cosmological or pagan emphases that went before, and has a jolly tune.

Four is also the most common division of songs into part harmony, and having recently sung in our latest summer concert, I feel greatly uplifted by the experience. Music, John Bell said on Thought for the Day about a year ago, is “the art form closest to faith. It comes – melody, harmony, rhythm – from the beyond and, as a treasure when cherished can be an intimation of heaven.” So, if that’s the way you find your way to God, you might like to ponder these verses from Ted Matchett (excusing the exclusivity please) about the dance of life:

When Mister Ordinary Man goes dancing
These are the things he’s got to do,
He’s got to find himself a partner
else he just can’t dance – oh no no no!

Music, Music, think of the music
Think of the music and you’ve got to dance
Keep all those rhythms of life a’flowing
And give every part of life a chance.
AMEN to that

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
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