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Things palindromic

The closest we ever got at school to a palindrome was Napoleon’s gem: ‘Able was I, ere I saw Elba’; which filled us with about as much excitement as was experienced last Friday, when Mathematics teachers across the nation leapt into their classrooms with the news that the date was a perfect palindrome: The 12th of February 2021, written 12/02/2021. I have no doubt that the joyful news was met with quiet wonderment and profound amazement.

There are a number of palindromes in the Bible: Names like Eve, and ordinary words like level and deed. But there is one of special significance that genuinely raises the bar of excitement. One of the names for God – well at least one of the names by which His children may call Him – ‘Abba’. It’s not a secret nor mystical name, but simply the Aramaic word for Father, and carries the genuine wonder that it is possible for a mere mortal to have real intimacy with their Maker.

In some ways I’m thankful that the Bible is not full of palindromes, although there is plenty of prose and poetry and parables and psalms, for the Book is not meant to be a showcase of literary flourish, not a display of human wit, but a serious word from a serious God about a serious solution for our serious problem. A Saviour sent. Sin atoned for. Wrath turned away. And peace with God. And what can I say, but: ‘Evol was I, ere I saw love’.

DM 17th February 2021

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