The first 2014 issue of this newspaper carried the header ‘A decade of change in the lives of Fifers’ (Fife Focus, p16).
Reflecting on it, what was true for Fifers would also be true for many communities in the developed world.
And if it was taken over a lifetime or a century, the changes would be greater.
Only in a few primitive societies it might appear that time has stood still, where ways of life have not changed for many years on end.
Maybe in our fast moving societies we yearn for just a bit of that, but without the inconveniences and hardships involved!
But actually time never stands still. Time marches on and, inevitably, there are changes.
Just think of it over your own lifetime. Our school days and those of our children and grandchildren are vastly different.
Discipline methods and teaching methods have changed, opportunities are wider, aspirations are greater.
This is likewise true of health care, housing standards, transport methods, holiday destinations, communications methods, leisure time, family life and so on.
Is it just nostalgia that some of us do miss the old close-knit communities in the towns and villages of earlier years?
Many of them are not even there any more.
Clearly, we cannot turn the clock back. We might wish to, perhaps to enjoy some pleasant memory again, perhaps to relish old friendships and relationships, or perhaps to rectify old mistakes and make better choices.
We can’t go back, we must move forward, and we can make today worthwhile.
Its opportunities are open; they may not come our way again. Its choices are important; they can have far-reaching consequences. The future matters.
Choices made now can affect our future, both in this life and the next.
One of the things noted in that Fife Focus article on January 1 was “Fifers with ‘no religion’ have increased from 2001, with Christian religions seeing the largest fall”.
No numbers are given, though they could be unearthed in the Census records. But in worldwide terms, the numbers matter much less and the sample is small.
What does matter to each of us in Fife is our own personal choice, and what its consequences will be.
Certainly the trend does not mean Christianity is dying out, or that it is not relevant for 2014.
The words of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, come down the centuries unchanged.
His promise of present forgiveness of sin, including those darker moments of our past, is the same.
His assurance of a future in heaven to all who choose to trust in Him is as real and relevant as ever in this uncertain age.
He still says: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11.28).