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By Gordon Abernethy in All Sorts

Times ahave been changing since time began; we need to be mindful of not falling into the trap of thinking we are better now than before; we need to practise compassion and love.

Times have been changing since time began. Can you remember grandparents saying, “It’s not like in our time.” When a youngster, and living down the road from both sets of grandparents we often had meals there. One plate that appeared in my place time and again, it seemed, had the words, “Time and tide wait for no man.” I can’t
remember if I got a suitable answer to my question of what this meant. I certainly know now.
Our grandparents spoke of the changes that had happened during their life time and thinking back in later years I thought, yes they had – two world wars, the great depression, migration from ’home’ to New Zealand to a new life, progressing over time in transport and technology, and more. But then our parents lived through great changes as well and we have lived through great changes. We have just been reminded of the 50th anniversary of the first humans on the moon–progress–“Onesmallstep...“ Manonthemoon–it’s women’s turn next – that will be the trump card.
Remember what the Russian astronaut, Yuri Gagarin first man to journey into outer space, was reported to have said after landing safely, “I looked and I looked, but I didn’t see God.” I wonder what he would have said if he hadn’t landed safely, or if he had seen God? He did say that while orbiting the earth, “I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and increase its beauty, not destroy it.” Did that experience change in any way, his ‘religious/spiritual’ thinking?
‘When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set into place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:3,4
Bob Dylan’s ‘Anthem of the change for the times,’ was influenced by Irish and Scottish Ballads. He felt greatly about the changes that were happening in his time. He said there was a bitterness towards authority, towards the type of person who sticks their nose down and doesn’t take you seriously but expects you to take them seriously.
In Dylan’s last verse: ‘As the present now will later be past’, is a fact - today becomes yesterday, what we do today will influence tomorrow, or tomorrow’s history, our own if nobody else’s, one way or another. Influential people in the past have shown us that, John Wesley for one.
I am reading a new book on Wesley, “The John Wesley Code, Finding Faith that Matters” by James Stuart. The description of the living conditions of Wesley’s times are appalling, and the attitude of the well to do and the church leaders towards the needy is so dismal. The English Class system was strictly graded, each class looking down on the other from top to bottom, caring less for those below – sticking their noses down without any serious thought to the plight of the poor. One writer at the time said ‘that humankind was happier in a state of inequality and insubordination.’ Another, ‘that this state was permitted by an all wise and gracious Providence to show the poor how immediately dependent they were upon the rich.’ It makes me ashamed to think that perhaps some of my ancestors believed that.
What are we ignoring at this time, what are we sticking our nose down at and not taking seriously? Do we shrug our shoulders at the seemingly rampant liquor trade, the possibility of more drugs (e.g. cannabis) becoming readily accessible to the weak and vulnerable, the homeless sleeping in the streets, the children at risk, the so-called trusted financial advisers ripping off their investors, the slowness in checking pollution. .? What progress have we made since Wesley’s days?
’Do not withhold good from those who need it, when it is in your power to act.’ Proverbs 3:27
A last word from Wesley: ‘Love is the end, the sole end, of every dispensation of God, from the beginning of the world to the consummation of all things. Love will endure when heaven and earth flee away; for love alone never fails.’ Sermon: Nov. 1749
Gordon Abernethy