Lesson 48: Point-Duty

It’s a lovely holiday afternoon, even in Haggerston. You gulp down your tea, swallow almost whole the bread and marg., get your bicycle out of the shed (where it lives with the hens and rabbits), go off for a ride. By the horse-trough at the end of Yorkton Street you turn to the right along Hackney Road; past the Odeon and Mr. Levy’s opposite (where you buy sweets and I buy fags); by the Gat Park (now with no railings), Mr. Pasco the chemist’s, Mr. Green the watch-mender’s; to Shoreditch Church. There, at the busy crossroads, are two policemen managing the traffic, and so preventing accidents.

At your baptism your godparents promised for you that you would keep God’s commandments: at your confirmation you take this promise on yourself. There are ten of them; in The Prayer Book Catechism they follow the Creed, because right doing can only come after right believing. They are God’s orders; and were first given to the Israelites {Exodus 20). When our Lord came to this world to teach, not only Israelite Jews, but everybody, about God, he preached one day a long sermon on a mountain {St. Matthew 5 to 7, though you need not read it all at once). In it he gave the ten commandments a wider meaning; but did not change them {St. Matthew 5, 17 to 19). They are still God’s orders to all God’s people: his traffic-signals on the road of life {St. Matthew 19, 17).

“Stop,” says the policeman’s hand, as he stands in the middle of the road with his back to you; “there are two buses, four private cars, a dust-cart and a funeral coming along Shoreditch High Street past the bombed ruins of Jeremiah Rotherham’s. You can’t see them: but I can. Stop; or you will be the next funeral.” “O.K.,” says his pointing finger after a while; “you want to go to the right along Kingsland Road. It is safe to go now.”


“Stop,” they say; “don’t do, say, think, that. It is dangerous.” “This,” they say, “is the right thing to do, say, think. This is the right and safe road to the King’s land, heaven.”