The First Sunday after Christmas

I had miss calculated his retirement time. I had forgotten that with leave to be taken he would
be gone soon and my visit to the police station was possibly the last time I’d see him. “How
long have you been in the constabulary?” “30 years”, came the reply. That is a long time of
serving and supporting the public in what is often regarded as a rather thankless role. I
wished him well and God’s blessings for the future.
I am excited that the James Webb Space Telescope

launched yesterday. It has been a long time – dec-
ades – in the preparation. A member at Good Shep-
herd has been working with one of the instruments on

board for 13 years. That’s a long time as well.
In my visits and contact with folk, I am visiting people
close to or in their 90s. That’s definitely a long time. I

forget where I heard it but in about 6 weeks, Her Maj-
esty The Queen’s Platinum Year of her reign begins –

another long time.
What is a long time? I can remember thinking, as a
child, that the time between Christmases was a long
time whereas now it can be more ‘What?! It’s Christmas already?!’. I encounter people who
have problems in their relationships ‘for a long time’ – and seek to end things – and my sense
of things over the decades is that the ‘long time’ is getting shorter and shorter. I’m not saying
people should put up with problems – good communication and a desire to resolve things is

always helpful – but I do make the point that in a 50 year marriage there are invariably prob-
lems and circumstances that need to be worked through and can seem never-ending at the

time but can come to an end and contribute to a deeper relationship where there are more
good times than not in the 50 years.
What is a long time?
I am drawn upwards to the Sun whose light that I see left the Sun 8 minutes ago. Don’t look
at the Sun (!) but we are looking back in time. The James Webb Space Telescope when in
position 1 million miles from Earth will be able to ‘see’ infrared light that will allow us to look
back an estimated 13.5 billion years. Now THAT is a long time! And yes, I’m excited by what
may be discovered and the new learning to come. Nevertheless sometimes this perspective
can make us seem so small and insignificant. King David once said, “When I look at your
heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what
is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3,4
Christmas and Easter proclaim to us that God knows and cares for us personally; that we are

not cosmic flukes; and that in the fullness of time God sent his son, born of a woman, to res-
cue us so that we could live as God’s children for the longest of times! In the vastness of the

universe and of time, this message about Jesus, proclaims to us that we – each single hu-
man being – are significant to God. That’s mighty comforting to know all the time. GS