Thought for the Day - Rt Rev James Jones - 09/04/2013
However much we prepare ourselves for the death of our ageing parents there’s always grief when they die. Carol and Mark Thatcher will today be mourning the loss of their mother while in a parallel universe a cacophony of comment and opinion will probably jar with their private grief. The Queen has said she will be writing privately to the family. Just like the audiences with her Prime Ministers these words will also be protected by protocol. And rightly so. But words are the stock in trade of all politicians and Margaret Thatcher knew the power of them. For her, a conviction politician, words were the vehicle to drive forward her ideas. And because these ideas towered over all our terrain there are very few unaffected by her passing.
One word stood out from all the punditry yesterday. Charles Moore, her official biographer, revealed that she wanted to call her memoirs ‘Undefeated’. That in itself will provide future generations of students of politics with an essay or two. But as he said it, two images came to my mind. First Mrs Thatcher at the despatch box in full flow as Prime Minister and secondly Baroness Thatcher sitting in her place on the Red Benches of the House of Lords. I used to watch her from the Bishops benches opposite. In her last years immaculately groomed but frail; dignified and chaperoned by caring colleagues; her dignity declaring that she was still, yes, ‘undefeated’.
But as we all know, and as she knew from her own Christian understanding, whatever victories we may win electorally and militarily there is for us all an ultimate defeat at the door of death. Except. And this will be one of those other convictions which she will have heard from her father, a Methodist Local Preacher – the death that defeats us all has itself been defeated.
St Paul, a conviction theologian of whom she would surely have approved, proclaimed the resurrection of the dead from the despatch box of the New Testament. ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death where is thy sting? The Thatcher family will know that there will be, and indeed will expect, endless commentary on her life and politics. But this is also a moment for them to be comforted by the convictions of their mother’s faith. In the midst of all the global attention here’s a family in grief and friends in sorrow. The faith of that Methodist household in Grantham would have given her the greatest of all her convictions. In the words of Pope John 23rd “Death is part of the future for everyone. It is the last post of this life and the reveille of the next.”
Available since: Tue 9 Apr 2013
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