We went up to New York City
and took the girls to see the Royal Shakespeare Company’s
Broadway presentation of its multi award winning musical
“Matilda,” based on the book by Roald Dahl.
I was particularly struck by the lyrics
to the song “Naughty” by Tim Minchin.
It’s Matilda herself, a young girl,
trapped in a rather terrible set of circumstances,
“Jack and Jill, went up the hill
to fetch a pail of water, so they say.
Their subsequent fall was inevitable.
They never stood a chance, they were written that way—
innocent victims of their story!
Like Romeo and Juliet,
t’ was written in the stars before they even met,
that love and fate, and a touch of stupidity,
would rob them of their hope of living happily.
The endings are often a little bit gory.
I wonder why they didn’t just change their story?
We’re told we have to do as we are told but surely
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.
Just because you find that life’s not fair, it
doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it.
If you always take it on the chin and wear it,
nothing will change.
Even if you’re little, you can do a lot, you
mustn’t let a little thing like, ‘little’ stop you.
If you sit around and let them get on top, you
might as well be saying
you think that it’s ok,
and that’s not right!
And if it’s not right,
you have to put it right….
If you’re stuck in your story and want to get out,
you don’t have to cry, you don’t have to shout ….
but nobody else is gonna put it right for me.
Nobody but me is going to change my story.
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty!”
Love the idea of changing your story—
of not accepting it as a given.
Love the idea of children claiming that power.
It is, after all, incumbent upon us
to carefully—prayerfully—discern when to be naughty not nice.
That’s a hard lesson to teach our children.
It’s a hard lesson to learn.
You have to be so very, very careful.
And I have wondered, as we prepare to enter the month of Easter,
about endings that are a little bit gory
and temptations to change the story.
And it seems to me that more important to Jesus
than his own story,
was the story of God,
unfolding in such stark contrast
to the stories of culture and institution
that pressured Jesus (as they do us)
to conform to their plots.
So Jesus’ strong commitment to changing the story—
to not accepting it as a given—
to being naughty,
was not a commitment to changing his own story,
but the stories of his time and place—
the stories of the institutional religion of his day.
Two things to ponder
as we continue moving through Lent
heading to Easter:
the confession that we tend to change God’s story
to better fit ours,
than to change ours to better fit God’s,
and, nonetheless, the hope—the faith—the affirmation
that it is God’s story that continues to unfold.
For as much as we consistently choose our own stories,
ours is the naughty God
ever busily rewriting—changing the story again.