Posted by Marjorie Ainsborough Decker text© 2011 on Jun 13th, 2012
Happy Father’s Day Greetings Dear Blog-Nog Friends,
One of the best-known singing roundelays in the world is “Three Blind Mice.” In spite of the lopping off of their tails by the farmer’s wife, four centuries of time and tradition have securely claimed it as a playful rhyme for little children.
Many years ago, Christian Mother Goose surprised the publishing world by introducing another set of mice with happier “tales.”
Kindness is a beautiful reflection of God’s goodness. And it’s a heart-warming thing to see kindness at work, especially in children. I remember an incident in a shopping mall where a small boy stood longingly at the ice cream counter, hoping eleven cents could buy something. But he couldn’t match the menu’s cost. Then a bigger boy stepped out of the waiting customers and said, “Order whatever you like, I’m buying.” Surprise and delight rippled throughout the whole area. Kindness won the day!
It is the goodness and kindness of God towards us that, while we penniless earthlings have nothing with which to purchase His righteousness, God steps up to the Cross of Christ and says to the world, “I’m buying! And the sin account is paid in full by the redeeming blood of My Son.”
As Titus 3:4-6 records: “But after the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Praise God, His love for us shines brightly against the background of our helplessness.
Christian history is a favorite subject of mine. I marvel at the valiant, sacrificial and inspiring lives of God’s people throughout the ages. Many years ago, I was astonished to find an attempt to link the Christian martyrs – Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer behind the origin of “Three Blind Mice.” It was in 1555 A.D. that the three distinguished and devoted Cambridge clergymen were burned at the stake for standing for the truth of the Gospel of Christ versus man-made tradition.
The last words of Hugh Latimer to Nicholas Ridley have lodged in my heart ever since I read them forty years ago. With the two Christians chained together, and as the flames arose, Hugh Latimer said, “Be of good comfort, Mr. Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England, as I trust never shall be put out.”
In 1611 A.D. (two years after the publication of the original “Three Blind Mice”) the King James Version of the first Bible in the English language arose like a giant candle across the green fields and cottages of England. The candle was lit!
In our journey as curious earthlings, tradition can be a very tenacious thing. In fact, at one time (shortly after the original Christian Mother Goose Book was published), I was challenged by a writer in a major magazine. She chastised me throughout two pages, ending with: “These old rhymes belong to children exactly as they were written. They have been worn smooth and lovely by a thousand tellings.” I hardly think that a thousand tellings can convince those three blind mice that their tail-less existence was “smooth and lovely.”
Nevertheless, tradition has enshrined “Three Blind Mice” with unchallenged acceptance as a playful children’s nursery rhyme since it appeared in the 1609 A.D. publication of “Pleasant Roundelays.” But I often think of what my dear husband, Dale, said regarding the minds of children: “We would never intentionally bruise the limbs of our children, neither should we carelessly bruise their minds.”
And this is why I responded to the magazine article with a rather humorous rebuttal titled, “Take Another Gander at Christian Mother Goose.”
Tradition can be founded in wonder, joy, solemnity, mystery or one of many other origins that survive the passing of time. An incident that happened over twenty years ago made my family laugh at how easily I unwittingly started a “tradition.” We were having dinner in a hotel dining room. I was seated facing an arrangement of palms and flowers that was quite lovely – except for one thing. Staring forlornly back at me was a rather bare bust statue of a woman – perhaps the decorator thought she might represent Eve in the Garden of Eden. But I’m sure even Eve would have appreciated some modesty in the hotel’s bustling dining room.
I happened to be wearing a gold lace scarf that evening, so with all good intentions, I walked over to the forlorn lady, draped the scarf artistically around her, saved her dignity and went back to enjoy my meal. In the midst of a gripping conversation, we left the hotel and drove away, totally forgetting the scarf.
Years later, we stopped at the same hotel for lunch. To my surprise, the statue lady was still wearing my lace scarf! I asked the hostess about it. She explained it was part of the statue’s presentation, and they were careful, when dusting, to arrange the scarf exactly the way it came with the statue. I just smiled at the new authority of tradition now imbued in my scarf and left it there for posterity. After all, dare I argue with tradition?
The Biblical record of Mark chapter 7, illustrates a telling lesson by The Lord Jesus on misplaced tradition – placing spiritual value on mere man-made traditions. The chapter records that certain Pharisees and scribes had come from Jerusalem to Galilee, where The Lord Jesus was performing mighty miracles of healing.
Disregarding the loving compassion of Jesus for the multitudes, they had walked over eighty miles to complain to Him about His disciples not keeping the religious tradition of washing their hands before eating. That’s good hygiene, but no replacement for our personal acceptance by God through the cleansing, redeeming blood of Christ Jesus.
To those Pharisees, Jesus said: “You make the word of God of no effect through your tradition.” And coming from The Living Word Himself, perhaps it’s time to sift and sort some traditions we, too, may have mixed in with our own brand of Christianity.
I remember a dear old saint telling me, “Faith is only as great as the object upon which it is focused. If it’s focused on a rabbit’s foot, there is no power there – nothing! If your faith is focused on the Lord God Almighty…then all things are possible with Him!”
Jesus stated emphatically in Mark 11:22-23, “Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, ‘Be thou removed, and be cast into the sea;’ and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith.” So why tinker with powerless tradition if we have a personal Mount Everest to move?
God grant us wisdom to keep our man-made traditions where they belong: in the realm of noble, special, and even sacred memories – and those things that are “lovely and of good report.”
Considering my lifetime interest and research into “Old Mother Goose,” coupled with my lifetime pilgrimage with Jesus and God’s Word, I will just say that Old Mother Goose was in desperate need of coming to The Lord Jesus to be born again. And that is exactly what happened to her in my bathtub over thirty years ago, when I began to write her bright new message.
Today, I’m thrilled to know that many of our reader friends have been raised on the Good News of the Gospel as conveyed in Christian Mother Goose – and many continue sharing those rhymes and stories with future generations.
God bless the kindnesses you do, both large and small. THANK YOU for sharing the mission of Christian Mother Goose, and lighting a candle.
Christian Mother Goose®
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