“If -“

Rudyard Kipling has long been out of favor. It is easy to forget that he was the first English writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1907. Jungle Book was published in 1894 and some would dare to suggest that it is in its own way autobiographical. He grew up in India and detested that he was sent to foster parents for his schooling in England, something which he never truly forgave his parents. Today he is viewed as an imperialist, racist and an anti-Semite. I will share with you a link to a New Yorker article on Kipling which is interesting reading. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/07/08/rudyard-kipling-in-america

His poem “If-” is written as advice from a parent to a child, and at the time of his writing it was addressed to his 12 year old son, John. In 1915 his son was killed in World War I and it changed Kipling for ever. I share his poem with you.

                   If –
(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you   
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,  
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Lord God,
over the centuries
the church has taught (1)
that our chief purpose in life
is love God and to enjoy God forever.
The church has taught (2) us that our
only comfort in life and death is to know
that we belong, body and soul in life and death
to our Savior Jesus Christ.
So today in my prayer
I offer thanks for your love and grace
O Eternal God.
May this be good news not for the few but the many. Amen
(1) Westminster Shorter Catechism (1640)
(2) Heidelberg Catechism (1560)

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