01/01/10: New Decade, New Hope?
Various commentators have been reviewing the decade in the last few weeks and such examinations are useful. We need to remember the things we once valued or took for granted. It's also a moment to see the progress we have made or be jolted by our failures. I am struck by how quickly the decade has passed. We have seen momentous change, some of this has brought improvement. Some things will never be the same again.
As the year 2000 dawned I preached to a packed Anglican church in the village where I lived. It was an incredible day, all the hopes for a new century and the fears for what would happen with the Millennium Bug. I waited with 'interest' after the hospital said they could not guarantee the pacemakers would continue to function. I preached on ‘Fool with the barns' as he was told 'this very night your life is required of you' and asked what arrangements people had made for the end of all that we known. It was a time when we had great excitement, people were even thinking of more spiritual things (hence a full church) and we had confidence in the future. That feeling of optimism was not confined to the church. It touched many interests.
Now, I am not qualified to deliver a full retrospective on the decade but I don't think we are as hopeful entering the next ten years as we felt entering the century. We are not being invited these days to feel hopeful about many issues. The Terrorist attack on America in 2001 changed the landscape of contentment. Somehow we did not apply ourselves to this attack and subsequent atrocities in the ways of old. We had fought two world wars and dealt with the IRA but somehow we didn't show great defiance and we weren't asked to keep a stiff upper lip. We had known feat in the previous encounters but fear was, somehow, talked up. What then followed will be debated for years to come, Technology shrank the planet during the last ten years. The internet and the mobile phone have brought both blessing and curses to our life. People work harder, they are always in contact with family friends and work and the stress surveys on subject make interesting reading. We also entered the age of opinion (said he). Twitter blogs, message boards, interactive services on radio and television, to say nothing of film clips from mobile phones on the news have flooded the nations. There are not enough hours in the day to keep up with developments. Are we more satisfied than a decade ago because of such improvements?
Climate Change has also provoked fierce debate and unsettled many hearts Talk ..of rising tides, shifting weather patterns and wetter summers would ruin anyone's carefree life. But it's not impacting on those in high office in the major polluting countries. The fact that evidence is disputed and timescale is unknown means we live in a time of prophesy that some have embraced and others find highly dubious. So before I say Happy New Year why have a ruined your afternoon read. We see in the above fear, stress and uncertainty that has made for a rotten time It's all serious stuff and we need to comprehend such matters
I have left out issues such as euthanasia, atheism and recession as there is only so much people can take. All these things are notable from the last decade and they have affected other eras as well. But we need a clear view of what Faith does for people before we all despair. Ten years against 2000 years of Christian belief is nothing. Christ offers hope to people. We are not promised an easy time but God strengthens us and provides for our needs. His resurrection takes away the fear of death. Oh yes, the world is coming to an end but a better one awaits those who are interested. Christians believe that life works best when we ask for God leading rather than blundering along in our own sweet way. We have something to offer to the world and we should not be oppressed as many are being oppressed today. Recognizing where we stand is a vital feature of our outreach, the world has changed and Sidmouth has also changed in the last ten years. If we appreciate those changes and where people are struggling then we will be better equipped to serve the community in the time to come.
What is that hymn 'Give me your hand my friend, Jesus is Lord’
Happy New Year, Brian
Brian, Sara and the girls would like to thank all those who have sent thirds and gifts. It is most appreciated. We wish everyone a Happy New Year