When the unlikely heroes of Walmington-on-Sea set out on a training mission to catch a spy (otherwise known as Sergeant Wilson) they adopt cunning disguises for moving about undetected in the undergrowth. Sort of.
The men of the Walminton-on-Sea Home Guard hold a place in our hearts in spite of their blundering and buffoonery. They always win out, even if they end up with a few bashed egos and a lot of hair out of place. Phrases like ‘Stupid boy!’ ‘Don’t panic!’ and ‘We’re doomed!’ instantly bring a smile. Have a look at this quick clip – evidence of how much Dad’s Army, and its hapless heroes, are embedded in our culture.
And, thinking of unlikely heroes, there are times when the disciples look a little like Godfrey, Jones and Pike, missing the point, saying the wrong things and placing their feet firmly in the wrong direction. It’s heartwarming, these dubious disciples don’t get it all right, they are not the elite, they are folks like you and I. And yet they have been handpicked.
Other rabbis waited for potential disciples to approach them and ask for tuition. Jesus flips that round, and handpicks a bunch of people who were not considered the right kind of material. If a boy showed potential when young he would be scooped up into spiritual training. If not he went into his father’s business. James, John, Simon and Andrew all went into their father’s business. (So did Jesus come to that!)
When Jesus walked into town at the start of his work, he asked the people to repent. The word used in the Greek is apparently ‘metanoya’, which means, change your thinking. If folks were going to understand the kingdom of God at work through Jesus they would have to be prepared to start afresh, to change their minds and open their hearts to a fistful of whole new things. This is why, at times, the disciples look so confused, they have one idea of God’s kingdom, and Jesus has another. When John the Baptist hears about Jesus whilst in prison he sends friends to quiz his carpenter cousin, Jesus doesn’t sound right to him. John had proclaimed one vision of the kingdom, Jesus was living out something else.
We may find ourselves blundering at times, running one way when Jesus is heading in the other direction. It’s nothing new. ‘Happy are those who are not offended by me,’ Jesus said to cousin. Those who can cope when he breaks out of the boxes they put him in. Those who can adjust and refocus and change their thinking. We are all just learning when it comes to the kingdom of God in Jesus. Day by day, one blundering Dad’s Army step at a time. If you feel you are struggling at times, don’t panic, you’re not doomed, you’re in good company.