Thursday, 23 October 2014

X is for …… Xempel!

Xempel is not a word, but in this context stands for the Swedish exempel, or in English, example.
Here I am reminded of George Fox’s words from 1656: “Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you.”

In today’s world, xtremism (another made up x!) seems to reign – extreme weather, extreme beliefs, extreme views, extreme behaviour, and so on. How, I wonder, can we best be patterns and examples and a blessing in such a climate?

Sydney Carter’s text is an example of how we might be examples. It is quoted in full on the Netherlands Yearly Meeting website (, and entitled “The Ballad of George Fox”:

1. There's a Light that was shining
when the world began,
and a Light that is shining in the heart of man:
There's a Light that is shining
in the Turk and the Jew,
and a Light that is shining, friend,
in me and in you.

(Chorus) Walk in the Light, wherever you may be,
Walk in the Light, wherever you may be!
In my old leather breeches and
my shaggy, shaggy locks,
I am walking in the glory of the Light, said Fox.

2. With a book and a steeple and a bell and a key
they would bind it for ever but
they can't, said he.
O, the book, it will perish, and the steeple will fall,
but the Light will be shining at the end of it all.


3."Will you swear on the Bible?"
I will not," said he,
"For the truth is as holy as the Book to me."
"If we give you a pistol,
will you fight for the Lord?"
"You can't kill the devil with a gun or a sword."


4. There's an ocean of darkness
and I drowned in the night
till I came through the darkness
to the ocean of Light;
You can lock me in prison
but the Light will be free.


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