Friday, 11 January 2019

The Past is a Foreign Country

I love L.P.Hartley’s well known quote: The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.


This week we went, as a family, to watch the film about Freddie Mercury and Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody.  It both starts and ends with that July day thirty-three years ago in 1985 when Wembley hosted Live Aid.  The film had a terrific re-creation of Queen’s performance on stage in front of one hundred thousand people.  Afterwards our boys quizzed us about Live Aid and couldn’t really take it in that we watched it the first-time round – we are that old!!!  For us 13th July 1985 seems like yesterday, to them it’s up there with the Saxons and Romans!

Does the past, I wonder, teach us anything?  Or does each succeeding generation have to encounter every tricky situation for themselves and find their own way through? 

This week a Radio 4 reporter has returned to South Africa for the first time in twenty-five years.  His reports about continuing repression and corruption, but this time administered by black rather than white officials, was deeply depressing.

So much in the Judaeo-Christian tradition is about remembering and learning from yesterday.  The Jewish scriptures often proclaim: Israel, remember this…. And of course, feasts such as Passover and Communion have rememberance at their very heart.

It’s understandable when we lose patience with either ourselves or those around us who continue to make the same mistakes because they are deaf to the lessons from yesterday.

In his great poem about love and its ethical consequences St Paul wisely says: Love keeps no record of wrongs.

God treats us like this in his mercy and grace so surely we have to be open to such a generous and forgiving spirit too.

However many times the Prodigal comes round the corner, returning home seeking a new beginning…however many times, I believe The Father always runs to greet him with open, welcoming arms.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Alpha and Omega


The only symbols in chapel when I was at theological college in London were the first and final letters in the Greek alphabet: alpha and omega.  I have to confess they constantly reminded me of the inadequacy of my New Testament Greek!

Although the college chapel didn’t have a cross, those who designed it in the 1950’s did want us worshippers to have that sense of a God who is mysteriously, yet wonderfully, present in every part of life; that he can be understood in those terms, used in the book of Revelation, as the ‘first and the last’, the alpha and omega.

Islam also calls God by this name and when our Jewish cousins call God ‘Truth’ they make up that word using the first, middle and final letters from their Hebrew alphabet.

So, it seems to be a common longing amongst people of faith that we both sense and appreciate the presence and activity of God in every aspect of our living. ‘Expressions of God’ constantly bless our everyday lives. Sometimes that’s obvious, yet in those tougher moments it might take some purposeful looking for.

As we begin this final ‘teen’ year of the century I find it hopeful to think that whatever happens in the twists and turns of the next twelve months, God – the alpha and omega, beginning and end – will make the journey alongside us.

The Past is a Foreign Country

I love L.P.Hartley’s well known quote: The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there. This week we went, as a f...