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Moving on

"Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' It is not wise to ask these questions." Ecclesiastes 7. 10

I overheard an 11 year-old remarking to her younger friends "When I was young the summers were so much better"! It made me realise how ridiculous we sound when we don our rose-tinted specs and reminisce about "the good old days". For a start, they probably weren't as good as we remember them. And, of greater concern, is that they can become a cop-out for embracing today and tomorrow.

Age-ism is counter-productive, whatever direction it is operating in: whether a senior citizen disparaging the youth of today, or a young person dismissing their elders as "past it". Such attitudes are not simply personal behavioural issues, they operate at a cultural level too: some countries revere old people as repositories of wisdom and experience, in others youth culture is asserted, through advertising and entertainment.

Might we not be better off taking the teacher's advice in Ecclesiastes? Lockdown has confirmed that we are all in this together. The "this" being referred to is, of course, the pandemic. But it applies more widely because the current pandemic is a fact of life, which affects us all. So surely the best and faithful response is to address ourselves to that most real of imperatives: how shall I live today?

It makes sense to draw from past experience and to prepare for whatever the future may hold. But let our focus be on today. And let that focus embrace the presence and contribution of others, whatever their age and experience. The only one with a prior claim on this moment - and, indeed, every moment - is God, our Creator and Redeemer. Through Scripture and the Holy Spirit he calls us to journey with him and with each other towards the promised land. So take heart: we are all in this together and the best is yet to come...

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