Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Into a new year . . .

I can't believe it . . . can you?
Time has passed so quickly.  It seems incredible that we're about to enter another year.

Nonetheless, I'm sure we'd all agree that 2016 has given us more than enough to ponder on . . . more than enough by way of fear, anxiety and uncertainty.

This was brought home to me very forcibly when I learned that an armed gunman is currently guarding the crib at Canterbury Cathedral.

But the year has featured many differing anxieties, and a question has come to the fore.

What, would you say, is the chief concern for the voting populace?
Bill Clinton, who was confident that he knew the answer, made "it's the economy, stupid!" his election slogan.

However, this past year has shown that Clinton could well have been mistaken.  Attitudes and priorities have changed.
As the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, observed recently:
" . . . what's interesting is we've moved more to a politics of identity than a politics of the economy".

It would appear that it's no longer simply a matter of financial viability,  it's also a question of who we are . . . of how we are valued.  As we said the other week, it's those at the bottom of society's pyramid who, anxious about their position in an uncertain future, are finally demanding recognition.

Not only that, during the past year we, in the UK, have seen cracks appear in the very fabric of our stressed society, cracks that are spreading and widening.

We have a fractured NHS, a fractured rural transport service, a fractured prison system, a fractured care facility, and who can deny the fractures permeating the country's two main political parties.

Has truth become another casualty of this destructive period? Are we truly in a 'post truth' society?

But let's pause and reflect . . . is all this fracturing a bad thing?  Not necessarily.   As a wise man once said, cracks exist to let the light come in.
We'll need a guiding light to lead us through the darkness ahead.

This seems the perfect moment to share a speech from 'A Sleep of Prisoners' by Christopher Fry.

Surely these words have never been more timely:

Dark and cold we may be, but this
Is no winter now.  The frozen misery
Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.

Thank God our time is now when wrong
Comes up to face us everywhere,
Never to leave us till we take
The longest stride of soul men ever took.

Affairs are now soul size.
The enterprise is exploration into God.
Where are you making for?  It takes
So many thousand years to wake . . .
But will you wake, for pity's sake

          *         *         *

It's time to say goodbye to 2016.
Let's move together from the birth-pangs of the past into the light of the New Year . . .

Monday, December 19, 2016

What If?

What if there never was a virgin birth,
No cattle bearing witness to the sight;
What if no angels sang of peace on earth,
No star shone tribute in the winter's night?
What if it were a dream? Would aught remain
Within the ashes of a cherished myth
To raise the cry "Hosannah!" and sustain
Man's soaring spirit on the wings of faith?
I know not, Lord, what history would flout
But Christmas bids us leave our flocks for thee,
And calls us, through the darkness of our doubt,
Towards the light of thy nativity.
We need not journey to a distant inn
When faith, and hope, and love are born within.