It’s Monday; my diary tells me not only that today’s date is 21st December 2020, but also it is: ‘Shortest Day, First Day of Winter‘ I recall that this is also known as the Winter Solstice about which I recently wrote a poem for future publication in the form of an acrostic:
Stay apart. Self-isolate. Then get
Old folk near the front of the vaccine queue.
Longer days from this point on, but
Speech still muffled through masks, not from booze!
Turkey hot, then ‘Cold Turkey’ to cure
Covid-19 is yet a threat . . . until
End of pandemic bye and bye . . . So,
I woke very early, and the hours of daylight would be few, of course! Interviewees on BBC World Radio made yet another serious call for listeners to change our way of life radically to prevent dangerous climate change. The Pope’s encyclical on the subject had failed to alter anything in countries whose population has a high percentage of Roman Catholics. For instance, the President of Brazil thumbed his nose at the Holy Father, saying: ‘The Pope may be Argentinean, but God is Brazilian!’ And, since Poland’s economy depends heavily on coal mining, they too have ignored the Vatican’s warning.
Pandemic Trade Embargo
Only hours before the shortest day Britain’s Prime Minister broadcast to the nation that a recent mutation of the Covid-19 virus in the U.K. was multiplying at an increased rate of seventy-per-cent of the rate in the previous nine months, so his promise of a five-day Christmas reunion with family and friends had to be cancelled. Also British ports were closed at midnight on the 20th, hours after he went off air.
‘Last Days’ Scenario
One church member had commented in a phone call that these were evidently ‘the last days’ before our Lord’s return at the end of the age. I replied, ‘It makes you think, doesn’t it?’ avoiding the dogmatism of my earliest days as a preacher. Six decades ago I could list scores of clear ‘signs of the times’, assuring my listeners that ‘this generation will not pass away until all these things have been fulfilled’. That would be the final generation of this age. Also, I can recall in more recent times a colleague at a convention throwing his jacket down on stage as a challenge to the devil that, although it did not depend solely on our radical new churches, we would make a most significant contribution nation-wide and even worldwide to ‘bring back our king’ (see 2 Samuel 19:43 in context).’Charismatic Renewal‘ was widespread in traditional churches, but ‘Restoration‘ (as our bi-monthly magazine was titled) represented a more radical approach as ‘new churches’ (as we were called by our critics).
The Need of a Humble Re-assessment
When we moved to our present hometown over twenty years ago, I worked hard with ministers of other churches in the locality for the unity for which our Lord prayed before his death, resurrection and departure (see John chapter 17). Not long ago the ‘new’ church I had pastored ceased to be; by mutual agreement they had amicably dispersed into various local congregations. Having already retired from my lifetime of travelling and residential ministry, I had with my wife joined a ‘Bapticostal’ church within walking distance from home, for we would soon dispose of our car. Now, for nine months, we have been quarantined and can only meet electronically.
Are these ‘the last days’? And is ‘the day’ due soon? ‘No-one knows except my Father in heaven‘, Jesus said. So we renew our covenant vows to him to worship and serve the great ‘I AM’ in every passing moment of the ‘here and now’, enjoying the dynamic fellowship of the head of his church whose promise is still operative: ‘Lo! I am with you always, even until the end of the age’. Whenever!
Yes, Welcome 2021!