I was surprised how much I enjoyed the musical movie version of Roald Dahl's Matilda which
has recently come to Netflix. As with a number of Roald Dahl's characters, the villains are obvious; Matilda's parents are boorish, mean and stupid, Principal Trunchbull (somehow played by the lovely Emma Thompson) is a terrifying former hammer-throwing champion, now a sadistic bully of a headmistress, basing much of her lifestyle on a wicked lie, and ruling by fear.
In contrast, the heroines; teacher Miss Honey and Matilda herself represent a glimmer of hope in a cruel system. The 'small but stubborn fire' which warms Miss Honey's ramshackle cottage, is symbolic of this hope. How does one stand in the face of overwhelming hate, evil or stupidity?
What is sobering is how many global leaders of nations and would be candidates for such office right now are comparable to Principal Trunchbull. They seek to govern by fear, propaganda, prejudice, misinformation and actual violence. Angry, disunited people living in fear can be controlled and manipulated.Their voices are not heard.
We feel our contribution to the good of the world is of little consequence in the face of so many things beyond our control. Yet in the gospel and the Christian faith which are ours, we have the means to kindle the 'small but stubborn fire' of hope in the world. When I say world I mean God has called us to a corner of the world in which to act, and act we should.
This is the season of Epiphany in the church calendar. Christ is revealed, the scripture shows us Jesus, how do we respond? Matilda encourages us that we can 'change the end of the story.' Kindle fires of hope. Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:10 encourages the church that; 'there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose.' May we have enough faith and unity in 2023 to be that 'small but stubborn fire' of hope, to speak for the voiceless and act with justice and mercy.