At the end of2002, ITV put on an adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago. I have to say I did not want to watch it, and I didn’t. However, having turned on the television to watch another programme, I caught the end of the final episode. We saw the death of Dr.Zhivago, having seen, but been unseen by his lost love, Lara, and their son. We are then taken to his funeral, at which Lara is present, and then we follow her home. Waiting by her front door are the secret police. Lara is arrested. In the moments prior to her arrest she told her seven year old son to take the book of Zhivago’s poems and run. The final shot was of her being taken away in a car, watching her young son run away, smiling, oblivious to the enormity of what was happening. The voice-over of the son, in adulthood, is heard reciting these words: “I never saw her again, I can only suppose she died or vanished somewhere, forgotten as a nameless number on a list which was later mislaid, in one of the innumerable concentration camps in the north.”

I must admit to being greatly moved by this final scene, and I regretted not having watched the series. I wondered, how did we get to this end, and what story brought us to it; I decided to read the book. What’s interesting is that the book does not end there. More of that later. It seems to me that the story of Jesus is not unlike this.

The great significance to the story of Jesus is found at the end, with his death on the cross. It is to become so significant that the same question perhaps arose: How did

we get to this end? Christmas is joyful, but it is the prelude to the main story, which continues through the baptism of Jesus on to the events of Holy Week and Good Friday. We got here because of his birth, because of who he was and because of what he proclaimed and taught. It does not seem to end well.

Returning to Zhivago’s story, it does not end with either his or Lara’s death. His friends eventually find his lost child. It ends with the two ageing friends “sitting by a window high above the immense city[of Moscow] spreading away into the dusk. They felt a peaceful joy for this Holy city, and for the whole land, and for the survivors among those who had played a part in this story, and for their children, and the silent music of happiness filled them and enveloped them and spread far and wide.”

The story of Jesus is such a similar one. At the end of Nikos Kazantzakis’s “The Last Temptation” Jesus understands that everything has been fulfilled “His disciples were alive and thriving. They had gone over sea and land and were proclaiming the Good News. Everything had turned out as it should, Glory be to God!

He uttered a triumphant cry: IT IS ACCOMPLISHED!

And it was as though he had said: Everything has begun.”

‘Are we ready to continue the story’?

Gill Layton

Vicar’s thoughts for March 2016