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Molly's Family

Children's Story
"I'm never going to get married," declared Molly. Her parents had divorced the previous year, and her mum was now living with a new boyfriend. Molly didn't like him, and he made it fairly clear he didn't like Molly either. It was fine when her mum was around, he was all sweetness and light then. But whenever her mum was absent, he was quite nasty to Molly.

It was no better at her dad's new home. Her dad was living with a new girlfriend, who wasn't very keen on having Molly around. Molly was forced to visit them every other weekend, but since her dad lived on the other side of town she had no friends there and she hated it. Her dad and the new girlfriend were wrapped up in each other, and Molly was always bored.

"It can be all right," ventured her friend Tracy, cautiously.

"All right for you," replied Molly. "You're happy. I've never been happy at home. I do remember one Christmas when I was very small, but it's never been any good since then. I'm happy when I'm with my friends, but I hate going home. I always have. And underneath everything, I always feel really sad."

Tracy didn't know what to say, so she just gripped Molly's hand and squeezed it. Molly was her best friend, and she hated seeing her so unhappy. Then she said impulsively, "Come to my house. We can play upstairs in my bedroom, my mum won't mind."

It was good at Tracy's home. Tracy's parents were very relaxed, and pleased when she brought her friends home. The two girls spent some time in Tracy's bedroom, playing music very loudly and laughing and chatting. Nobody seemed to mind the noise thumping through the house. Then Tracy's mum asked if they would like to help her make some cakes, so they both went down to the kitchen and had a wonderful time with flour and eggs and milk. When it was time to go home, Tracy's mum hugged Molly, and Tracy's dad winked at her.

After that, Molly often went to Tracy's home. Sometimes she stayed over, and that was the best time of all. She wished her own family could be like Tracy's family, but this was the next best thing. Tracy's mum and dad were so good to Molly that she always felt like a member of the family when she was with them, and she grew to love them very much. And Tracy herself had always felt just like asister to Molly.

Sometimes, Tracy's parents drankwine with their meal. They often commented on the quality of the wine, and Molly noticed that Tracy's mum occasionally pulled a face when she took the first sip.

"Don't you like wine?" asked Molly.

Tracy's mum laughed. "I enjoy a glass of wine with my meal," she said. "But I don't like wine which is too dry. I prefer something fairly sweet, so sometimes the first taste makes me shudder a little. But after that I generally get used to it and then it tastes fine."

Molly looked at her thoughtfully. "Is marriage like that?" she asked. "I never wanted to get married because my mum and dad were so unhappy when they were married. I hated it when they split up, and I didn't much like my mum's boy-friend, butsince I've been coming round here it's been better at home. And your home is always happy even though you're married. So I wondered whether marriage could be like wine. The first taste might not always be very good, but perhaps it kind of grows on you?"

Tracy's dad winked at her and grinned at his wife. "Put it like this, love," he said. "I'd rather have wine with my meal than water. Even if the wine isn't too brilliant, it's a bit more interesting and exciting than water. And you're right. Marriage is like that. It might not be brilliant all the time, but it's a lot more exciting and interesting than just living together. Not that I condemn anyone for living together, but that's like settling for water when you could have wine. It's the commitment of marriage that makes it fun. Just as good wine has to be matured before it's really drinkable, so a marriage has to be worked at before it gets really good."

When Molly reached home that evening, her mum looked really serious. She hugged Molly and then said, "I don't know whether you're going to like this Molly, but Paul and I have been talking. We've known each other for a long time now, and we want to get married. But we're both concerned about you. You seem to get on better with Paul now, but how would do feel if he became your stepfather?"

Molly grinned. Then she flung her arms around her mum and Paul and hugged them both. "Go for it, mum," she said. "I'll be a bridesmaid." Then she added with a twinkle in her eye, "After all, living together is like settling for water when you could have wine. Let's make wine together, and be a proper family."

And remembering a story she had heard in Sunday school about Jesus changing water into wine, she added impulsively, "You will get married in church, won't you? Because I really, really do want God to help make this marriage special."

And I'm delighted to tell you that they did get married in church, and that they all lived more or less happily ever after.
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John Jamison
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
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He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
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