Grapevine – August 2016

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair ….”

So begins Charles Dickens famous novel – A Tale of Two Cities. One could be forgiven for thinking he was writing, somehow, with our period of history in mind. Yet the novel was written in 1859 referencing a period 60 years before that.

Since the last edition of Grapevine we have witnessed some enormous political and social events. The vote of the UK to leave the EU; the continued rise of Donald Trump in the US Presidential Race; and our own Federal Election. All these events in their own way have given voice to growing dissatisfaction and disaffection by many ordinary people with the status quo. And then there has been a sad series of attacks on civilian populations in numerous countries around the world – some racially motivated, some religiously and some politically. And finally (I use that word advisedly) the recent attempted coup in Turkey!

One could be forgiven for becoming both anxious for the future and cynical of attempts to right the wrongs.

Is there a Christian word of hope in this desperate time?

I believe there is, and I was reminded of it from two different sources a week or two ago. The apostle Paul, in the opening chapter of his letter to the Christians at Colossae, paints an enormous image of the work of God in Christ. He writes:

Christ himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

What a wonderful image – all things holding together, all things cohering. In older times the language of divine providence was often used to describe God’s hidden work in the world – the work of holding things together when mankind is doing its best to pull things apart.

And the other source? A brilliant little cartoon strip by our own Michael Leunig.

A man and a woman in conversation about the state of the world.

It’s all so cracked and broken, what holds it all together?” asks the man.

It doesn’t hold together” replies the woman. “It is held together.”

There it is – the Judeo/Christian doctrine of providence, albeit expressed in a rather unorthodox form!

It is in times like these when we fall back (or is that forward) on our hope that God can continue to hold onto the world, and us, through these dark days.

See you in Church, Clive

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