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A reading and a reflection to start the day, with the Rev Dr Craig Gardiner, a tutor at South Wales Baptist College.

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2 minutes

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Sat 11 Jan 2020 05:43


Good morning. Today we remember the death of the great English writer Thomas Hardy. I studied one of his novels, The Mayor of Casterbridge, for my A Levels. The story follows the ups and downs of one Michael Henchard and the wife and child he sells when drunk, to a passing sailor. After reading the opening chapters of the book, my teacher asked us if we thought that things would eventually work out well for the central characters. Some students answered with an optimistic ‘yes’. Others were more circumspect. But I responded with an emphatic ‘no!’ ‘Things would only get worse’, I said, because having read some other Hardy novels, I thought he rarely seemed to wish good fortune upon his literary creations. 
Maybe I was unfair to Thomas Hardy, his characters have shone brightly in English literature for decades, but to my mind, the narratives he unfolds in this book, seem to be in contrast with the story God intends for us. I know that none of us is perfect. We act in hurtful ways and as the Prayer Book puts it, we leave undone the good we ought to do and do such things that would be better left undone. But for all that, the bible still insists that human beings remain God’s work of art, masterpieces, intended to discover and create good in the world. To my mind that good will be found where our greatest joy meets people’s deepest needs. 
Unlike the characters of fiction, we get to explore what brings us joy, and we also carry the responsibility to bring the best of who we are to our wounded world. Those privileges and that potential belong to us alone, who are free to choose and have been chosen for good.
Dear God and author of all life:  We give thanks that you see in us a masterpiece of potential that you have intended for good things help us to discover joy and purpose within your artistry todayAmen