Letter from our Minister
Earlier this week the comment was made to me about how people say they get ideas whilst sitting on the top deck of a bus. I was on a bus the other day and it didn’t work: it gave me no ideas of what to write here but help came from elsewhere. Recently two people have given me pages from newspapers because of a particular article and one even suggested I use it in one of my letters.
The first corrects a mistake I, and I expect many others who were taught history in the early 1970s, have made. I had assumed social security and welfare systems are a product of the twentieth century. How wrong I was.
In 1601 the parish Poor Laws of Elizabeth I provided the world’s first ever universal social security system. The system was funded by a progressive tax on the value of land occupied in every parish; this supported the elderly, orphans, the disabled, the ill and the unemployed, providing an entitlement to support.
The article explained how these provisions lasted for almost 200 years and facilitated the industrial revolution; how it gave the populace freedom from famine and freedom for the younger generation to leave the countryside, safe in the knowledge their parents would be cared for. It didn’t last into Victorian Britain hence the criticisms made by Charles Dickens in his novels.
The article continued to draw lessons for today. I simply note the warning of how wrong we can be. Our generation, those of our parents and a few further back should not dismiss former generations from much further back in history. As Christians, we should know that we follow on from the saints who have gone before us, as far back as the early church.
The other article referred to much more recent events and from whom we can learn there, the events of 50 years ago when Apollo 11 successfully landed the first two men on to the moon. I thought I should have typed ‘the people on the moon’ but the phrase then, and since, has been ‘men on the moon' so I stick with it.
The article pointed out how, of the 12 men who did walk on the moon, many of them were Christian; how the successful Apollo missions were ‘compelled by faith as much as science’. Some may recall Genesis 1 being read from Apollo 8 as it orbited the moon. Then, on the first landing, one of the first acts was from Buzz Aldrin, an Elder in the Church, who had taken bread and wine and served himself communion, so some of the first words spoken on the lunar surface were the words of Jesus.
Our faith should be part of all that we do and how we do things. It also should affect how we view things. We won’t get the views that those 12 men had but maybe we can know why they felt as they did. Astronaut Mike Massimino said that, as he gazed at earth, he thought, ‘God must love us to give us such a beautiful home. It just makes it so obvious that God created this beautiful place’. Astronaut Eugene Cernan, the 11th man to walk on the moon said, ‘When I looked back home there was too much purpose, too much logic. The earth to me was just too beautiful to have happened by accident’.
With best wishes,
P.S. Further newspaper articles are welcome but not, please, from everybody!