What is your earliest memory? Is it really something you remember, or is it something you have been told about yourself as a child?
I know that on Christmas Day, 1957 I asked my mother what Christmas is all about, because she has told me this. I know that she told me about Jesus' death for us, and that by God's grace I accepted his death in my place, then and there, all those years ago.
But I don't really remember it. I don't think this matters, because the result of being in Christ can be seen through God's subsequent holding on to me for the past almost 50 years.
On Thursday, 5th July, I inadvertently drove through a Give Way sign, and my Toyota Camry was hit by a Toyota Landcruiser, resulting in my car being substantially damaged, but in me having a bruise on my substantial chest [my wife has not yet carried out her threat to buy me a bra, but you get the drift] which you can't see, and a bluey-yellow bruise on my left arm, which is my trophy of my foolishness.
This reminded me of a genuine earliest memory, which is of the only other serious car accident in which I've been involved. There are 600,000 car accidents in Australia every year, of which 200,000 result in injury and about 2 thousand of those who are injured do not survive the experience.
I think the accident which I remember happened when I was about three years old, and involved a collision between our Austin A40 car and a semitrailer. I was seated behind my father, the driver, and had been asleep. I can still remember the sensation of suddenly discovering that I had strange chunks of an unusual lolly in my mouth, which turned out to be bits of glass from the window.
But my earliest memory of hearing the Christian message is of my Aunty Ruth telling me the story of Peter being miraculously released from gaol [please note the spelling and pass it on to any Sydney Morning Herald subeditors you encounter].
She was looking after me, while my mother was out somewhere, I'm guessing, and she told the story dramatically. We were sitting on the floor, and when she came to the part where Peter knocks on the door of the house where the believers are praying for him to be released, she rapped on the floor, or the table nearby, and I nearly jumped out of my skin!
So it was wonderful to be able to visit my Aunty Ruth in Devonport, Tasmania this week and to see that at the age of 97 she can still read the newspaper, understand what she is reading and can still feed herself.
I wanted to share our Christian faith and asked her if she had a favourite bible verse, and she began to recite the names of the books of the Old Testament, but it was ironic that she got through these names and then stopped:
I asked her what the next book was called, but she said she couldn't remember, and so we talked a little about the book of RUTH!