It was at one of those annual reunions.Some of the people were enjoying themselves talking about the good old days “Aye, those were the days”, when the sun shone, all summer, and the air was fresh, when bread tasted like bread, children knew their places, and everyone had time to talk to each other. “Hold on”, I can almost hear you shout “Nostalgia only sees the world through rose-tinted lenses”, and that’s true! ‘The good old days’ never were all that good at the time, it’s only our memories which have become selectively pleasant. Nostalgia is not what it used to be!
Near Manchester there’s a village in which a plaque commemorates a disaster in the local colliery. It reads as follows: “In the year 1832 the Lord terribly visited the colliery of Robert Clerk and the above-named were called to meet their maker”. Above were the names of twenty three people who had been killed that day in a pit disaster at Robert Clerk’s coalmine. Now you and I would, I think, want to quarrel with the wording of that plaque, for I for one do not believe that any disaster was visited on them by the Lord: not the Lord I know anyway. But it gets worse. Every single person named in that pit disaster was under the age of nine! It was little children who had been the slave labour in the black-hole corridors of that pit. Very small children were on that death role. We look back in horror at those “bad old days”, and shudder when we realise that they were not a thousand years ago; but, as I write, in the last century, and in this land which was known as Great Britain.
John Wesley, at a slightly earlier date was deeply moved by visiting persons awaiting execution in Newgate Jail. Among them were many little children, some aged six and seven!
Now we ask, how could thoughtful, educated and mature people, many of them professing to believe in Christ, live in a society which treated children with such iron cruelty? The answer is that we humans are blind to most evil, until someone opens our eyes to it. That’s the job of the Lord’s prophets.
I wonder what horrors there are around us now that we simply take for granted. The Hebrew prophet, Zechariah had a vision not of the bad old days, but new and coming days, when people will be open and sensitive and alive to God and the kind of future he wants us to enjoy. This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” Zechariah 8: 4-5
A Prayer: Lord, lead me to live your simple rule to treat others the way I want to be treated by them.
Now read Revelation Chapter 4.