From David, our Moderator

 

On one occasion Jesus suggested to people around him that they were knowledgeable on the signs of the weather but woefully ignorant on the “signs of the times". On another occasion a famous minister said we should have a bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. 

 

So what might be the signs of our times and how might they be interpreted?

 

As I write this President Donald Trump is locked in a battle of wills with his congressional colleagues over the wall he hopes to build in order to keep immigrants and asylum seekers from entering America. 

 

At the same time it was reported that the remains of six individuals who died in the Auswitch concentration camp had come to light in the Imperial war museum, and had been buried in a moving ceremony led by the Chief Rabbi. This just prior to Holocaust Memorial Day.

 

And of course the news was full of the on-going Brexit discussions with the government seemingly deadlocked on the problem of the border between Northern and Southern Ireland.

 

Alongside all of those was one of the ubiquitous stories of computer hacking. 

 

Reflecting on these news items as “signs of the times" it struck me that they had something in common - the nature of dividing walls. All these stories are about dividing, separating and keeping people out, whether in America, Nazi Germany, the UK or the Internet.

 

Walls, it seems, are a sign of our times in a variety of ways.

 

Walls to keep people out are of course a common feature in history. The great wall of China was built to keep out the nomadic tribes of Eurasia; Hadrian’s wall was built to keep out the northern Britons; the Berlin wall was built to divide East from West Germany and even Offa’s Dyke seems to have been a line of division between England and Wales. Eventually all of these walls were breached broken or simply fell into disrepair or irrelevance as times changed.

 

Though the bible has many instances of walls, it seems there is also that counter idea in the New Testament that of the demolition of walls.

 

Way back In the Old Testament God had said through the prophet Isaiah that one day the people would not need walls instead they would call salvation their walls and their gates praise while the prophet Zechariah said that one-day God would be the firewall for his people. In other words their security would come from their faith not their stonework.

 

When Jesus died the gospel writer tells us that the heavy curtain of the temple symbolising the barrier between God and humanity was torn in two from top to bottom. That torn curtain showed that heaven was open to all who would enter. Paul adds that in Jesus God has also broken down the dividing wall between the Jewish nation and the other nations to make one humanity, bringing peace. Right at the end of the bible, John's vision is of a great choir of people from every tribe colour and nation gathered joyfully as one people in the presence of God to celebrate the final victory of heaven, ultimately a kingdom without walls.

 

It seems that while one sign of our times is the on-going building of walls to keep people out, or keep them apart, God is in the on-going business of demolishing walls to let people into His presence and bring people together with Him.

 

Every blessing

David