The Word on the Week

Crude Oil

There is an old tale of a leaking horse trough which had served the community well and refreshed many horses in its day. The leak had become worse and the villagers got together to decide what to do about it. After some discussion it was decided not to repair the tank but to shoot the horse! This story came to mind when I heard of the sacking of Tony Haywood the Chief Executive Officer of British Petroleum. He had been in the job for a couple of years having been dealt a bad hand by his predecessor whose dramatic career had been going for the big oil fields which were in dangerous drilling locations. Safety had been sacrificed for speed and the net result was that Tony found himself with a burned out oil rig and a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on the 20th April, which has only now been plugged. True, Public Relation skills were not Tony’s strong point but no one had tried to seal a gushing well one mile down on the sea bed before. His predictions were at best “guestimates” and the media made sport of him. Of course BP has resources and the US Government has made sure they use them! In addition to two other rigs drilling down into the oil well to seal it with cement, BP has employed up to 4,000 ships in clean-up activities on the surface and countless people picking up tar-balls on the beaches. Now that the end is in sight BP have replaced Tony with an American CEO who may be better at repairing relationships than wells! What comment can the Bible make on this man made disaster? Perhaps the greatest ever man made disaster was the crucifixion of Christ. The Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity visits the world he had created and the world rejects, rubbishes and repudiates His ministry. This was the same world which in the beginning was declared to be very good. The pollution of sin which came into the world, rather like escaping crude oil, contaminated everything it touched. The clean-up, Jesus said, starts with repentance. This is not being sorry because we have been careless. Nor is it sorry because we have been caught. But the recognition that the pollution starts with me, is my responsibility – I need to stop the flow. It is not a pretty sight to be shown ourselves from God’s perspective and so rather than repair the horse-trough, rather than turn from our sins and trust Jesus – we shoot the horse; fire the CEO, crucify the Christ! But even this disaster God turned around and the risen Christ sent the Holy Spirit to His disciples changing them from cowering creatures hiding in an upper room to fearless witnesses who have brought the message of the cross to the whole world. Listen to Saint Peter’s preaching less than a couple of months after the crucifixion:- “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts chapter 2 verses 36/39. Repent and be baptized – the invitation remains valid – accept it today.