Dear Friends,

This Sunday evening sees the start of the TV highlight of the year. ‘I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here’ returns to our screens Previously, pre-Covid, it was located in the tropical jungle somewhere in Australia. Nowadays, because of that country’s strict quarantine rules, the show has been relocated to a ruined castle in North Wales. Tropical it ain’t! For those of us local to the Church, this year the programme is particularly significant as one of the ‘celebrities’ is a Suburb resident. Our very own Richard Madeley – of Richard & Judy fame – is one of the contestants. And so, we know who to vote for, don’t we? Of course, it begs the question as to just who is deserving of ‘Celebrity’ status? This tongue-in-cheek definition hits the spot for me, ‘…A unique persona made widely known to the public via media coverage, and whose life is publicly consumed as dramatic entertainment, and whose commercial brand is made profitable for those who exploit their popularity, and perhaps also for themselves…’ Indeed, so many people seem to lay claim to ‘celebrity status’ that journos have had to sub divide them into A-listers, B-listers, C-listers etc., etc. By way of contrast, I have always been impressed by this description of Jesus.

“…Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centrepiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life….”

A veritable antidote to be administered whenever there is any suggestion that within the Church, and especially within ministry there is room for so-called ‘Celebrity Culture’. Sadly, it does happen. And too often, as with life in general, ‘The bigger they are, the harder they fall’. It’s good advice to anyone that they ensure that whatever their circumstance, should the time ever come, that they don’t have so far to fall. Anyway, part of the fun of ‘I’m a Celebrity’ is seeing self-professed celebs publicly humiliated, all in the name of entertainment. And so, may the best person ‘win’ & be crowned King or Queen of the Castle, and we can always bask in the reflected glory of our having played our part in their enthronement just by dialling the number when told to…

Who is deserving of ‘Celebrity’ status