I have long been a Charley Mackesy fan. Not just his genius at sharing snippets of human wisdom in those sketches that draw you in to listen but as a human being. Understated, humble and deeply spiritual I love his attitude. That a faith in Jesus lies at the core adds to my fandom, obviously. I love his irreverent but deeply insightful introductions to Alpha on YouTube.
So, the Stockmans used the film animation as our family Christmas Eve sit down and watch together. It was great.
With my quirky theological perspective I couldn’t help but spot a few themes that appear in the Gospel. With all my nativity story bullets fired during December, I needed something and here it was.
My mistake was preparing in Mackesy's original book and then on Christmas morning trying to transfer it to the new book that goes with the film. It meant that my actual Christmas Day address was a muddle of misfires. Here is the better script…
“What is that over there?”
“It’s the wild,” said the mole.
“Don’t fear it.”
Fear is an often used word throughout the Gospels and particularly in the nativity stories. When the angel appears to Zechariah and Mary - “Do not be afraid.” When the angels appear outta the night sky and sing to the shepherds - “Do not be afraid.”
Later the mole and the boy continue to chat about fear.
“Imagine how we would be if we were less afraid,” said the boy.
“Most of the old moles I know wish they’d listened less to their fears and more too their dreams,” replied the mole.
Is that not what Mary did? She listened to the hopes and dreams of the angel’s message rather than the fear of what she’d have to go through.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy.
“Help” said the horse.
This is so profound. So important. I would have it framed on every student hall of residence across the world. We need to know how courageous asking for help is.
“Asking for help isn’t giving up.” Said the horse, “It’s refusing to give up.”
Prayer is more than simply asking God for help every time we are in trouble BUT God is never weary of our cries for help. He wants to walk with us, be with us in our valleys of the shadows.
Of course there are others to ask for help. Conduits of God’s answer to our cry for help. The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse find that help in each other.
In the nativity story Mary though not fearing still goes off to find her cousin Elizabeth to help her through.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Asked the mole.
“Kind” said the boy.
That is an ambition. I wanted to be a scientist in P5 but by the time I was in 3rd year at big school I got 18 out of 100. Being a scientist was not for me… but being good at funerals and weddings!
It is quite an ambition to be kind. God sent Jesus as a baby in straw as a weighty mark of his kindness to humanity
“Nothing beats kindness. It sits quietly beyond all things.”
Kindness sitting beyond all things reminds me of Paul’s amazing poem in 1 Corinthians 13 - “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”
“Well we love you whether you can fly or not”
Ultimately finding ourselves is about discovering love. Home is when we belong to others.
“So you know all about me?” asked the boy.
“Yes,” replied the horse.
“And you still love me?”
“We love you all the more.”
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is about that love. Mackesy is obsessed with this love. A statue in his garden showing the embrace of the Prodigal Son and his father in Jesus parable is a symbol of such love.
The entire Salvation History of the Bible is about humanity that is lost being found by the undeserved mercy, unconditional love and amazing grace of God. Ultimately, this is where we find ourselves. Loved.
As John tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16&17)