IN YOUR VERY SKIN

I’M A LATECOMER to J K Rowling’s Harry Potter – a fault that cannot be laid at the door of my daughters, nor of a number of my clerical colleagues – past, present, or possibly future – all of whom have been chasing me during the past ten years to sit down with number 1. But 52-year-old-dodderers are still capable of being persuaded sometimes – and I was enthralled to read the Rev’d Rachel Mann’s theological reflections on Harry Potter in the Church Times recently, and I’ve listened carefully to the enthusiastic reflections of a number of very thoughtful friends, finished the first book, and even seen the first film. And near the end (yes: of the beginning! – it could be another ten years before I make it to the currently-in-the-cinemas end) …

(Albus Dumbledore to Harry) ‘Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realise that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign … to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection for ever. It is in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good.’

And now this latecomer wants to say “Amen”. And as I picture Jesus chatting quietly with Lazarus, Martha and Mary in their little house in Bethany, and with other dear ones, in other times and places, I can only imagine that had J K Rowling been storytelling in their neighbourhood, then, He might well have shared her parables amongst His friends. At any rate, His friends then and now came to understand that to have been loved deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection for ever. And so we aspire to love like that. Deeply. So that “it is in your very skin”. It “leaves its own mark”. It makes communion. For ever.

Yes: Amen.