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BRING ME SUNSHINE (Voyage to Villemoustaussou 8)

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Back in the 1970s compulsory TV viewing ‘in the day’ was the Morecambe and Wise Show. Who can forget their signature tune ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ accompanied by their silly dance? For the younger generation (and the uninitiated) Eric Morecambe (John Eric Bartholomew, 14 May 1926 – 28 May 1984) and Ernie Wise (Ernest Wiseman, 27 November 1925 – 21 March 1999), known as Morecambe and Wise (also Eric and Ernie), were a British comic double act, working in variety, radio, film and most successfully in television. Their partnership lasted from 1941 until Morecambe’s death in 1984. They have been described as ‘the most illustrious, and the best-loved, double-act that Britain has ever produced’. They had a series of shows that spanned over twenty years, during which time they developed and honed their act, most notably after moving to the BBC in 1968.

I found myself thinking about them … even smiling to myself as I recalled some of their hilarious sketches … during the spell of hot weather and lovely sunshine we recently enjoyed here in the UK. It took me back to our recent holiday in France in June and the lovely sunshine we enjoyed there whilst the weather back in the UK was pretty miserable. Reflecting on our time in France I found myself thinking about the number of people we came across whose prayer was essentially ‘Bring Me Sunshine’. To be honest, the reason why Julia and I go to France most years for our main holiday is in search of the sunshine. We always feel so much the better for a few weeks in the warmth and sunshine of the south of France. As a general rule we always go south of Limoges because otherwise we cannot guarantee to get the sunshine and warmth we crave, and we are rarely disappointed.

This year our holiday was earlier than we originally planned because our church in Knaphill is heavily involved in two local shows/fayres/fetes … whatever you want to call them … and we needed to be there. We also only had three weeks’ holiday in the summer for our annual visit to France … not the two/three months camping holiday we have enjoyed (during our ‘retirement years’) for the last five years or so? Although the weather forecast for France for the first three weeks of June was questionable the weather brightened up considerably more-or-less as soon as we got there. I was reminded of a story about Phillips Brooks (1835 – 1893), the saintly American Episcopal clergyman and the Rector of Boston’s Trinity Church. Apparently the local paper once reported something along the lines of: ‘The day began cloudy and overcast with a hint of rain … but about noon the Rev Philips Brooks came into town … and everything brightened up considerably!’

For the most part we enjoyed three weeks of very pleasant sunshine during our time in France. Julia would have liked it to have been somewhat hotter, but for me it was just perfect weather. It was pleasantly warm and sunny but not the kind of oppressive heat that we endured the previous year in the Camargue where between 12 noon and 4.00 p.m. you really couldn’t do anything but rest in the shade. Our main holiday was on a campsite near the medieval town of Carcassonne and during our first week there the weather was glorious. The weather forecast for our second week suggested rain, but ‘Madam’ (who ran the campsite) simply shrugged this gloomy prediction off with the words, ‘The weather here is local … and it will be fine!’ And she was absolutely right!

On our way back to the UK at the end of our three week visit to France we got into conversation at our hotel with a couple from the UK who were just beginning their holiday. We plan to ‘chase the sun’ they said, when we asked them where they were headed for. This attitude was not unusual. These were not the first people, by a long chalk, to say this kind of thing to us in the course of our holiday. When we stopped over in Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne for a couple of days on our way down to Carcassonne we met a pessimistic couple (convinced that it was going to be bad weather in France for evermore) who were already thinking of driving right through France and into Spain in search of the sunshine? Even when we were enjoying beautiful sunshine during our first week on our campsite near Carcassonne a couple of our fellow campers (believing the doom and gloom weather forecast on French TV rather than trust ‘Madam’s’ local knowledge) upped sticks and went off somewhere else ‘in search of the sun’. Out of interest we checked up on the weather in both Spain and other regions of France over the next week? Of course ‘the rain in Spain was mainly on the plain’ and most of France (apart from where we were) was under water? We ourselves did nothing? We did not ‘up sticks’ and go ‘in search of the sun’? We simply ‘stayed put’ … and let the sun come to us! And it did!

This frenetic ‘search for the sun’ mirrors the behaviour of many people in society and … let’s be honest here … in church circles?! In society many people are constantly changing jobs, careers, partners, locations, interests and activities, and so on, in search of something better, sunnier if you like? And for the most part it is to no avail. Christians also (who you would think would know better) change churches at a whim, rush form this ‘new thing’ to yet another ‘new thing’, desert previous long-term allegiances for the latest ‘trendy Christian personality’, and so on.  Sadly ‘chasing the wave’ of God’s (so-called) latest blessing does not seem to have achieved much for the majority of these ‘Christian surfers’?! In my opinion, God is far more likely to send ‘revival’ upon a people who demonstrate the genuineness of their love for, and commitment to, Jesus Christ by their steadfast, day in day out, consistency in Christian living, than by espousing a ‘fly by night’ emotional roller coaster style of Christian living?! The Bible tells us that the ‘light [of the sun] shines on the righteous, and joy on the upright in heart’ (Psalm 97:11) … not on those who are simply ‘experience seekers’. It is ‘those who wait for the Lord [who] will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary’ (Isaiah 40:31).

As we leave our hotel and head for the port at Cherbourg in order to catch our ferry back to the UK … it starts to rain! Three weeks in France enjoying the warmth and sunshine and finally it rains! ‘O look!’ says Julia, ‘It is finally raining!’ ‘No!’ I reply, ‘It is France crying because it is sorry to see us leaving?’

Bring me Sunshine, in your smile,
Bring me Laughter, all the while,
In this world where we live, there should be more happiness,
So much joy you can give, to each brand new bright tomorrow,

Make me happy, through the years,
Never bring me, any tears,
Let your arms be as warm as the sun from up above,
Bring me fun, bring me sunshine, bring me love.

Bring me Sunshine, in your eyes,
Bring me rainbows, from the skies,
Life’s too short to be spent having anything but fun,
We can be so content, if we gather little sunbeams,

Be light-hearted, all day long,
Keep me singing, happy songs,
Let your arms be as warm as the sun from up above,
Bring me fun, bring me sunshine, bring me love.

~  Sylvia Dee

Jim Binney

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