Address at Eaglesfield Church – 13 September 2015

This was delivered in what is traditionally the “Children’s slot” in the Sunday Service. I was, however, told by the Minister that there would be no children present; she suggested an “Adults’ Address” (the Sermon was later in the Order of Service)  So it’s a curious creature this one – a bit of a “dog’s dinner” (and that’s how I introduced it…….

I travel abroad four or five times a year – and, inevitably, forget to take a hat.

In Italy earlier this year, a particular baseball cap took my fancy.

The logo was simply “Italia 1871”

I don’t speak Italian – English is sometimes a struggle too! – but with pointing and gesturing and miming, the guy who ran the stall told me 8 Euros – a bargain….. but what was this “1871”?

More awkward communication or lack of it…. then the proverbial penny, or should that be “cent”?, dropped.

Most of us did history at school…. and dredged up from my memory…must have been 53 or 54 years ago…. ah, the date of Italian unification.

And I even remembered the name of the campaign to bring together all the various city-states and regions that made up a then fragmented Italy

The word: “Risorgimento”  In the best accent I could muster, I said to the vendor, “Ah, Risorgimento” ….

To which he replied, “8 Euro”

Well I got the cap, and then promptly got lost in the alleyways of Verona or it may have been Venice – I’ve no sense of direction & really shouldn’t be allowed out on my own.

After, several attempts at communication, I eventually found my destination and transport to my hotel.

Risorgimento – the ‘Father of Modern Italy’ is considered to be General Giuseppe Garibaldi  (who unlike Mr Kipling doesn’t make exceedingly good biscuits)

Italia - proclamacion

He was a great hero and patriot who fought for a unified Italy

It’s said that one evening, in 1861, while marching along a mountainous area with his troops, he came across a poor Sardinian shepherd  in great distress – the man had lost a lamb from his flock.

Garibaldi, despite the protests of his men,  promised to find the lost lamb.

He immediately commanded his troops to organize an operation to search the whole mountain ranges and recover the missing lamb. The troops reluctantly searched the whole area carrying lighted lanterns but could not find the lost lamb anywhere.

They returned empty handed and reported to the General that the lamb could not be traced. They abandoned the futile search and retired to their quarters

The next morning, Garibaldi’s attendant found that the General was still in bed much longer than his usual schedule.

Garibaldi used to rise up earlier than anyone in the camp. The attendant awoke him. He rubbed his eyes and brought out from his blanket the little lamb lost by the shepherd.

He had continued the search throughout the night even though his soldiers had stopped the search and gone to bed.

The compassionate heart of the great General was full of pity for the poor and helpless shepherd and his lost little lamb. Hence he could not stop the search or go to sleep; so he had continued to search throughout the night.

Garibaldi_G

Sometimes, communication can be difficult.  Much is lost in translation.

Often the first casualty is frustration which comes from a lack of patience which can lead to abandonment.

And sometimes compassion is ditched alongside disinterest.

Not so with General Garibaldi – never so with the great shepherd of the sheep – Jesus the Saviour to whom all of God’s living creation was precious.  He is the Good Shepherd – and we his flock – even – perhaps especially the least of our brethren

St. Peter teaches,. “You were like sheep that had lost their way, but now you have been brought back to follow the Shepherd and Keeper of your souls” {1 Peter 2: 24, 25}.

And Jesus seeks and saves the lost – of all types – communicating God’s love for us all – and through him, we are united in that love.

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