The 22nd Sunday after Pentecost

I arrived back in the UK to the news of the South Yorkshire flooding. Property destruction and deaths are devastating. I arrived back in the UK to pick up the news that the bushfires in Aus-tralia had got worse (and there had been considerable smoke across the state and I had driv-en near a few of them on my travels) with 97 fires throughout the state and again there is the devastating loss of life and livelihoods, homes and community infrastructure. ‘Unprecedented’ bushfires and ‘severe’ floods are noteworthy not just for their destruction but for their unsea-sonalness –along the lines of ‘If this is what is happening so early in winter / summer, what are we going to face in the coming months?’. People are tense.

It was about 3 weeks into my time away and I found myself thinking, ‘I’ve heard this before’. It is true that I didn’t conduct a wide survey poll but it did strike me on numerous occasions that whether in conversation with family and friends or whether the more general chat in a queue, at church, at the super-market about ‘things’ – life in general – life in Australia – that I often heard the sentiment that things are changing too much and too fast. This was usually said with sighing, with concern, and with some exasperation. (“Stop the world, I want to get off!”)

This weekend has Remembrance Day focus with the last days of poppy selling and the numerous services and wreath laying ceremonies around the country. We observe this occasion because we know what hap-pened. We know the past and the outcome (the good) which came with a cost in so many ways – often devastating whether it be the loss of property or the news that a loved one was not coming home – and so much more. We might wonder how people live in the tension that things can change in an instant.

Yesterday was the 30thanniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and, at the time, I knew this was significant but I didn’t appreciate – living in outback Australia as I was – the full consequence, the full outcome, and the real tension that lay before a Germany that could be united. The UK is currently in tension over Brexit and its future as a United Kingdom. How will it end?

I’m not sure! My point at the moment is that we might long for a smooth and easy life but living is very often done in tension –with ‘smooth and easy’ being the respite rather than the norm! Whether at a personal level or a global level (very much possible with today’s technology) tensions come our way and we look for security. Political theorists are saying that people look for the ‘strong man’. Scientists point to the evidence. Journalists and justices point to the truth. But in a world where we understand the phrase ‘fake news’ there is less agreement on what is real and the tension increases!

In the storms one needs an anchor or a safe harbour. I know this may sound simplistic but I have the view that if I can live with the tensions within myself – the good, the bad, and the ugly so to speak – then I may be better able to face the tensions around me. That is why ‘security in Christ’ –knowing who I am in Christ (a forgiven sinner whom God has made his child) – can give stability to then face the tensions around me whether they be at home or the community or the world. With Jesus with his people, his people are not socially useless, but he can lead us to see where he wants us to serve – even if the world is spinning faster and hotter than ever before!GS