The passage of time | Bishop Tony | July 2023

I recently came across a book of pictures from my home town of Bedford. It shows many images from 100 years ago in the Edwardian era. One of the pictures shows a family group walking along a street and I reflected on the fact that in their wildest dreams they couldn’t possibly have imagined how that street would look in 2014. They couldn’t have imagined for a minute the multi storey buildings that have replaced many of their shops and houses, much less the cars that would be driving along that street at speeds beyond their imagination.

It’s the same for us. Can we even begin to imagine how our neighbourhoods and town centres will look a hundred years from now and the changes that might have taken place? We simply have no idea, any more than the Edwardians would have had. Imagination and reality are going to be worlds apart. Despite all our hopes and plans, even our “dreams” we have no idea what the future holds for us and it becomes an important test of our faith and trust in God that, ultimately, we are content to leave such things entirely in his hands. In our area even a few years ago people would not have imagined the amalgamation of our three dioceses and the enormity of the change that will take place.

In one of his songs, Secret o’Life, James Taylor says, “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time” not of course enjoying its passage but enjoying it as it passes. In other words, life isn’t just a journey from birth to death, it’s about how we spend the time along the way. As Christians, we would have to add that it is about the purpose of our life, our ultimate goal, eternal life. While our sights are fixed on the future as we await in joyful hope the coming of our Saviour, at the same time that awareness and anticipation should bring our focus very much back to the present because it is in this world, in the here and now that “we live and move and have our being”.

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