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The Times They are A-Changing.

By Gordon Abernethy in All Sorts

we need to think about what positive things we can do to make a better world in times of change

Come gather round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth saving you had better start swimming
Or you’ll sink like a stone for the times they are a-changin’

Recently, during the church service, we were reminded of this Bob Dylan song and I thought of an old saying. When I was a youngster a dinner plate often turned up in front of me at the table of my grandparents that had this scribed around the edge “Time and tide wait for no man” It took me some time before I understood that saying.

Can you remember grandparents saying, “It’s not like in our time?” Did it take you long to find what was meant? I certainly know now, and to be certain, the times now are not like the times in my youth, for they have been changing since time began, long before we came on the scene.
Our grandparents spoke of the changes that had happened during their life time, they certainly had changes – a great depression, two world wars, migration from ’home’ – the U.K. - to New Zealand to a new life, with the changes in transport and technology etc, that went with that. But then our parents also lived through great changes, and in our turn, we have lived, and live through great changes. Space travel, electronic mail and voice communication using a gadget out of your pocket, or purse, from just about anywhere in the world.
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 think he almost did for he said.
“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 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’s history, our own and those close to us and perhaps further afield. People of the past have shown us that, John Wesley for one.
Think of the terrible living conditions of the ordinary person in Wesley’s time, the appalling attitudes of the upper class and even some church leaders towards the needy. The English Class system was strictly graded, each class looking down on the other from top to bottom, caring less for those below –without any serious thought to the plight of the poor.
Excuses for the conditions at the time came from writers of the time, one writing, ‘that humankind was happier in a state of inequality and insubordination.’ And 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.’ I shudder to think that perhaps some of my ancestors believed that. So, what are we ignoring at this time, what are we not taking seriously? Do we shrug our shoulders and think, ‘little me can’t do anything?’ I hope that through these elections our voting will show we are taking life, ours and others, very seriously.
Happenings throughout the world recently – storms, fires, earthquakes, covoid 19 – have some people using the words, apocalypse and apocalyptic, words derived from the ancient Greek, words far from the original meaning which was to do with revealing what had been hidden – Revelation, and being centuries away from John’s world and John’s word it says to us “ Although darkness and calamity is around us, light has always found us, light will come . . . look towards the light and carry on.”
Last Sunday’s talk at ‘Explorers’, from Samoan Mino Cleverly, Otago University graduate of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, brought us up to date with the situation of the peoples of the Pacific Islands. The effects of climate change, particularly the rising sea levels
causing loss of land on the low-lying islands. Loss of land means loss of crops leading to loss of population as people migrate to other lands. The Marshall Islands, where Mino comes from are very much affected and many are seeking new life in New Zealand and other countries.
The times are changing and the climate is changing, although we sometimes wouldn’t think it. Back to my grandmother, who told us young ones that the temperature at night, when she was young, this in England, was much higher than it is these days – N.Z. 1940s, I can’t argue about that – it became quite a chuckle to us – when she wasn’t watching, of course.
We can’t argue against scientific facts – the seas are rising, the average temperatures are rising, land in low lying areas is being washed away and the cause appears to be, points to, pollution. Pollution of air, land, and water. It has been going on since, before, grandparent’s day. We can’t blame one time, one generation, but at this time we can work at slowing the destruction. Yes, the times they are changing, we have to slow that change and turn it round. Think what we eat, what we wear, what we throw away, how we travel and what we travel in, how we are housed and especially how we heat the house.
Think on the old saying/proverb, WASTE NOT - WANT NOT. This wise saying originates from around 1772, but from earlier times, 1576, comes WILFUL WASTE MAKES WILFUL WANT.
’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