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2017 December Vicar’s Letter

Ever caught yourself wistfully thinking of bygone days? Things were so much better then. The world was simpler then. There wasn’t so much evil in the world then. Things were good back then…. I guess most of us fall into the trap from time to time, especially in these days of 24/7 news bombarding you at home ( TV, radio, computers ) and on the move ( tablets, smartphones). Inevitably the news is bad and seemingly calculated to make you anxious about the future – the latest ISIS Islamic terrorist outrages, Kim Jong-Un’s latest threats to set off nuclear missiles, President Trump’s unpredictable pronouncements and actions and the seeming setback to race relations in the US, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, threats within EU countries to national cohesion like Catalonia, Pollution and environmental concerns, chaos and potential conflict in the Middle East fanned by enmity between Shia and Sunni Muslims, famine in African countries. The news can be unremittingly bleak inducing the temptation to hark back to the good old days, the halcyon times of yesteryear.

If this ever happens to you, pinch/kick yourself! It’s a trick of memory or a result of the onset of 24/7 news. Things were never better in the past if you look at the last century or 150 years with dispassionate eyes. For me, the wake-up call came when I was talking to a waiter recently. Hearing what I thought was an Eastern European accent, I asked where he was from. That, he said, was not an easy answer. He’d grown up mainly in Poland but was actually of German-Russian parentage and spoke the three languages. It transpired he’d been born in Berlin but his parents moved to Southern Poland when he was just 2 or 3 and then in his teenage years he’d spent some time living back in Germany. But what was fascinating was the reason why his parents had moved from Berlin to Poland when he was a toddler. They were frightened of war breaking out living as they did with something like around a million soldiers ( ???) on both sides of the Wall. So they left Berlin with their child. What happened? Unexpectedly the Berlin Wall fell two years later in 1989! And not just there of course. Communism then collapsed right across Easter Europe against all expectations.

His story made me reflect. Many of us of a certain age grew up fearing nuclear war from the USSR; lived with Easter Europe under Communist domination and of course recollect the racial segregation and tremendous inequality in the USA as well as the decolonization wave from the 50s onwards which saw so many colonies freed to become, in many cases, successful and prosperous sovereign states ( think of Malaysia, Singapore, India, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, South Africa, etc). From living under the ever-present threat of nuclear war and a showdown between capitalism and communism, we have seen the world change politically and economically such that never before in the history of mankind have so many people had it so good around the world. Yes, there is still devastating poverty, conflict and inequality but who can doubt that more people in every continent are living peacefully, have higher standards of material living, and, are living longer and healthier lives than in previous generations?

Isaiah 9:6f proclaims “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” I believe our Father in heaven is showing us that of the increase of Jesus’ government and peace there shall be no end...

He has ordained this turnaround in the world which has led to this amazing expansion of economic progress and democracy. Yes, it’s not perfect and not advancing in a linear fashion anywhere but let’s acknowledge the unprecedented progress of the world since the Second World War and give thanks to the God who has enabled it. God has promised  “of the increase of his (Jesus’) government and peace there shall be no end”  Trust in Jesus,  and,  do not be afraid of the future. A Merry Christmas and blessed 2018 to you all!

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