Way, way back, when I was learning, and subsequently teaching, practical theology, one of the recurrent themes was that, if you look hard enough, you can find ways of reflecting theologically with or on any experience.
On Easter Sunday morning, the early open air service focused on John 20: 10 - 20, where Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and she is told not to cling on to him, but to go and tell his followers what is happening. The 'apostle to the apostles', sent to tell those who are chosen and sent to be and speak the Good News to the world. The minister's reflection covered familiar, and timeless ideas... this is a moment of passing on the work to the followers, if they don't let Jesus go, the movement will simply fizzle out and die with the last of them. Whilst the minister focussed on evangelism (personal conversation), I'd say it was more evangelisation (making the world gospel shaped). If Mary truly loves Jesus, if the disicples really love Jesus, they will let him go, and they will carry on the work, fulfilling his final charge in John's gospel to 'love as I have loved you'
So what, you ask, has this to do with Hermes the Hyndland Station Cat?
Yesterday the twitterverse, or at least the part I inhabit, was shocked by news that Hermes is leaving Hyndland for a new life in the countryside. After this week, his Twitter account will cease to be updated (though his ghost-writer assures us not deleted) and he will be gone from our eyes.
Now, to be very clear, Hermes is not Jesus. He's a very lovable, if a little bit naughty, cat. But, at the same time, he leaves his followers the opportunity to continue with the love he inspired...
- He has inspired a fan to create and sell a charity calendar raising thousands of pounds in the process
- He has shared news of lost and found cats, helping them to be find their homes (and when he was lost, he sparked an international wave of love and concern until he was found)
- He has brought smiles to the faces of commuters, hospital patients and staff alike
- He has always given me a leg rub and was up for cuddles when we met
- He has inspired love and generosity and made Hyndland a kinder place.
I was, genuinely, really sad to read the news that he is leaving - but to cling to him, to want him to stay here would not be to love him. Rather, to love him is to let him go to his 'heaven' of the Scottish countryside, and to continue the work he began in showing love to those he met in his everyday.
Farewell, Hermes, the Clepto-Kitties and I will always love you. And we will do our best to live your legacy - just as I will do my best to live the Good news of the Christ of God, whose love continues to transform the world, if only we will learn to love too, and join in.