I’ve been walking around the town ramparts of Berwick-upon-Tweed today. Spring is definitely in the air, and the sun is warm on my skin when the cold wind drops for a moment. I’m glad to be here in ‘Borderland’ today, with all the opportunities that this new year may bring.
So, it’s strange when my thoughts turn to another place and to a group of friends from what seems like ages ago…
I was born in a small town on the north coast of Kent (Whitstable, if you’re interested), and I stayed there for the first 33 years of my life. Since then I’ve lived in Manchester, North Wales, Cheshire and Northumberland, before coming to rest (who knows for how long!) in the Scottish Borders. I worked out that this also equates to living in 11 different houses, 10 of which were in the last 14 years. Loads of mobility but not, you’d think, much stability there.
But…to return to where I started….
I became a Christian at the age of 9, and joined a little church which was probably the best church gathering I’ve ever belonged to (although my current church is shaping up to equal it, I think, but haven’t been there for long yet).
I also had a small circle of close friends of around my own age who came from a selection of the local churches…David, Brett, Brian, Alan, Stephen, Anne, Denise, John, Mandy, Robin, Jeanette, Kevin, Christine, Trevor and Richard…apologies if you think you should be part of the list and I’ve forgotten you!
As together we grew in age and faith in the heady days of the 60s and 70s we spent a fair bit of our time putting the world and, particularly, the church to rights. We could have done so much better at promoting the Kingdom of God in our town than our predecessors…if only we had the chance. I remember having this dream/fantasy in which all of us went our separate ways, but then, one day, in answer to a dramatic call from God we all returned to the town and revival broke out in Kent.
Nearly thirty years have passed. Old dreams have died or been realised, or have maybe been replaced by new ones. Some of my friends have done much better on The Journey than me, while others have decided they’d prefer a different journey altogether. I’ve lost touch with most – I know that Brett is in Northamptonshire, Brian, Alan and Mandy are still in Kent, Stephen is in France and Trevor in the USA; the rest…who knows?
Probably, like me, we’ve all reached the conclusion that we are unable to sort ourselves out, let alone the church (and fortunately, it’s not entirely our job anyway). Of course, I also know that revival couldn’t possibly break out in Kent, as it’s going to begin in Scotland ;0)
But, joking apart, where did this ramble get me?
St Benedict, the 6th century monk who wrote the Rule of Life that bears his name put it like this: