From the Manse

"Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me - so that they may be one as we are one"
John 17:11

I have referred to the fact on numerous occasions that I am the eldest of my parent's ten children. Actually my parents had eleven children, which included two sets of twins but sadly my sister Mary's twin died 5 days after his birth. Many people over the years have asked me what it was like growing up in such a large family and it's interesting just what sticks in the memory. For example, I recall that I never had a bedroom of my own until my brother Sammy married and left home. I was 21 years of age at the time. I also recall how when cousins came to stay, which they frequently did when we were young, we would accommodate them by sleeping head to toe in our beds - we thought it was great fun. I also recall some interesting meal times. I remember meals where my sisters would check to see who had been given the spare sausage or chop often finding my mum had placed it under the chips or cabbage on my plate! They by way of protest claimed that I was "Mummy's little soldier!" Of course I would maintain it was because I was the eldest, when in all probability it had more to do with my mum's anxiety about my lack of height!

I also remember how the household chores were shared out. My sisters would help with the household cleaning while I was always assigned to do all those messages, (between the weekly big shopping) to the local shops to collect among other things my dad's daily newspaper - It was cheaper than having it delivered!

If all this seems rather romanticised to you then you would be right because I also recall the disagreements. How do you have 5 teenage girls living under the same roof for example without disputes about bras and knickers occurring? Similarly, how do you have 5 teenage Liverpool boys in the same household and prevent disagreements over some football related matter? Simply put - you can't! That's the way it is with human relationships - disputes happen!

What my parents did very well however, is that they didn't allow any disagreements to fester - They would frequently remind us that whatever disagreement we had with one another we still remained brothers and sisters. Such reminders obviously worked because although my mum and dad are now both deceased there still remains, strong and unbroken familial bonds between their children.

I like to think my parents, although not church goers, followed a Christian pattern - a pattern for Christian communities of disciples which Jesus, before his death, prayed for - Father, let them be one, as you and I are one (John 17:11).

With every blessing to you all.

John