Pastoral Letter November 2016

Dear Friends,

“a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past”

– Psalm 90.4

The words of Psalm 90 verse 4 help us to put our lives into perspective by giving us God’s perspective. We consider the appalling loss of life in modern wars, and one often-mentioned fact is the terrible losses on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, when 19,240 men died within 24 hours. But these are not the worst ‘daily’ losses we have ever known. In the Wars of the Roses, without the aid of modern weaponry, an astonishing 28,000 men died in one day at the Battle of Towton (1461). The great wars of the past century, however, along with genocides and other wicked actions such as the Holocaust, and the purges of various Communist and Fascist regimes, do overshadow the whole of recorded history. We remember loss, and injustice, and we are thankful for those who have given their lives in support of freedom and in opposition to oppression. But how easily and readily we forget, and how necessary it is to set time aside to remember.

It is not so with the Lord our God. He is the Creator of all things, including time. He is outside of time and in control of it. A thousand years, to him, are like ‘yesterday when it is past’. Our cover features a picture of the Roman ruins at Scythopolis in Israel. Once they formed part of a great city, but that city was only minor in an enormous empire. Those under the rule of it and citizens of it could scarcely have imagined the possibility that it would fall, and that such impressive cities would one day be merely ruins. But the Lord knew. He saw it all. So, today, He knows and sees all things. We seek to serve Him in difficult days when it seems that faith is unwelcome in the public square and that the vast majority of people in our society despise or pity us as fools. Our time, our circumstances, seem like they are everything. They are not. The horrors of persecution seem like they are novel and unending. They are not. It feels as though violence, murder, and war will endure forever. They will not.

Only God’s Kingdom is ‘everlasting’. Human history is in His sight merely the blink of an eye, and all godless human endeavour is no more significant than the scurrying of a colony of ants. We remember with thanksgiving the sacrifice of those before us. We weep with those who weep. But we do not despair! Jesus Christ has died once for all. The Lord is Sovereign over all things, and He will be glorified by the entirety of human history. Meanwhile, considering how insignificant is time itself, our greatest focus must be eternity. Are we prepared for it? What about our friends, family, and neighbours? How will you use the little time that you do have, in the light of eternity?

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