Between Time & Eternity
As the church calendar turns towards the season of remembrance, Rev. Tom Sander reflects on the passage of time and our eternal life in Christ:
North Norfolk looked smaller than I remembered it, as I stood at the top of Beeston Mound, overlooking the unchanged sprawl of Sheringham on Monday morning. One of my earliest memories is standing on this hill hand-in-hand with my grandparents, watching the steam train pull out of the station on its way to Holt. There was a windmill and a house with a green roof, and a few church towers which drew the eyes of my heart even then. That being said, I now stood there with just Grandad on the first anniversary of my Nan’s death. He was heavy with grief and in many ways, so was I. Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away, I thought. I was mourning not just for her, but also for the loss of innocence which belongs with youth. Time moves on, season to season, and as the funeral service says of life, “like a flower; he fleeth as it were as shadow, and never continueth in one stay.”
I have always found God in the turning of the seasons. Autumn for me is perhaps the most special and lovely of all seasons. There is something comforting about its predictability and there is a gentleness to it, which at times also belongs in death. I find autumn a time to think about the course of life, its changes and chances and our ultimate destiny with God. Standing on the top of that hill, the world seemed smaller, more fickle, cruel even, but with faith in God all manner of things seemed well. The Norfolk church towers still stood as markers not just for passing ships, but as beacons of unchanging faith, even if at times our lives are lived on shifting sands. As Christians we know that we are held somewhere between time and eternity, we see that which was at the beginning and is now and ever shall be. Christ is our bridge in all things and leads us from sin to grace, from despair to hope, from death to life.
I looked out at the sea and thought about that far distant shore and the much greater light which never fades and never passes away. Four words came then to mind. Thanks be to God. Autumn is a time to be thankful. Thankful for the gifts of the harvest; thankful for the household of faith – the church; thankful for those we love but see no longer. I look forward to welcoming you to church over the coming weeks in what I think is a season of deep and humble thankfulness for all that God lends us here on earth until we come to our home in heaven. I leave you with these words:
Bring us, o Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of Heaven,
to enter into that gate and dwell in that house,
where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light;
no noise nor silence, but one equal music;
no fears or hopes, but one equal possession;
no ends or beginnings, but one equal eternity, in the habitations of thy glory and dominion, world without end.
John Donne (1572 - 1631)
Please email Lesley with the names of those you wish to remember at the annual service of commemoration of the faithful departed on Sunday 5th November at 6.30pm.