21st September 2012

Being a descendent of St Mochta carries with it certain responsibilities.

My family website is regularly visited by Moughtin’s and Moughton’s from throughout the known world.  And every so often I receive an email from a Moughtin wanting to know where they fit in.  Like last week.

In which case I forwarded their email to Wally and Pat in New Zealand and to Tom (not his real name) in North America, authorities on the Moughtin genealogy.  (St Mochta, from Jurby in the IOM, was a disciple of St Patrick:  he died 20 August 535),

Wally and Pat responded in just a few hours.  But surprisingly, nothing from Tom.  I did know from some recent emails that there had been a bereavement in his family.

His email eventually came on Monday, giving some useful info.   It continued:

“Since I last sent you an e-mail about John’s death we have had more sad news. I have been going rapidly downhill in the recent weeks and have been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Combined with other ‘gut’ pains I have been in emergency and hospital for the past

10 days, having got out on Friday – but much drugged with morphine and opioids.

“So how much more help I can offer on genealogy I’m not sure – it’s just day-to-day at present.”

Obviously  I needed to make a response by email.  Not the most suitable form of communication to a dying man.  Also I do not know whether Tom is a Christian.

I didn’t want to sound religious, just giving platitudes.   Nor too wordy.  Also the choice of words is important – they may mean one thing to me and something totally different to him.  Such as the word “heaven.  ” For most people (and for some Christians)  heaven means a disembodied Elysian up there, a concept derived from Greek philosophers.

Instead the Bible speaks of heaven as God’s space while earth is our space.   The good news is that God is going to live with us, his will is done here on earth as it is already in heaven.  Now we may face the future with hope:  “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”  (Revelation 21:3)

So this was my response to Tom.

“An email is hardly the best form of communication for such a sensitive issue – as a rule I only use this form of communication for basic info and no more.  But you being over there in (North America), there is no alternative.

“As a Christian I am only too aware of my own frailty and a vicar having taken so many funerals, only too aware of my own mortality .  I guess your experience of genealogy means you are also conscious that our lives are just two dates separated by a — . What counts is what goes into that —.

“For myself – as for many Moughtin’s – I made the key decision when I was young to place my life totally into the pierced hands of the Son of God.  His death on the cross is now the most important and the most significant event in my life.  And as Jesus shares my mortality and takes to himself my disobedience, in fact all the consequences of my sin, so I share in his victory and receive his Holy Spirit.

“I’m not sure how well I will handle any grim prognosis that comes my way but nevertheless I trust that God will continue to give me the confidence to face the future with hope.  How he will redeem my weak and frail body I have no idea;  that he will, this makes all the difference.

“Jesus will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. (Philippians 3:21)

“So we will be praying for you.  And I trust that that branch of the Moughtin family may know and experience God’s wonderful grace.”

So please pray for Tom, that he may know the victory of Christ, as our forbear did as he proclaimed the Gospel in Ireland 15 centuries ago.