IT was the best of times, it was the worst of times, wrote Charles Dickens in ‘The Tale of Two Cities’.
And, many years later, the American songwriter Bob Dylan gave to the generation of the sixties a song about changing times.
Times come and go. Time waits for no-one. Our lives are full of good and bad times. Hasn’t it always been like that?
We tend to think that, in the ‘good old days’, times were better.
To some, each generation is never as good as the one before. Youth, in the eyes of some, is awful.
Criticism of young people is much the same as it ever was. That doesn’t seem to change – how sad.
Bob Dylan pointed to the change that was taking place in that turbulent revolutionary period and that was a real wake-up call.
Today, 50 years after the ‘Swinging Sixties’, while the changes are colossal morally, religiously, politically, please do not despair of youth.
They, on the one hand, have much to teach those of us who were teenagers in the sixties and it is our responsibility, on the other hand, to pass on the vital foundation of the religious and moral values which are our heritage; if we don’t, who will?
Bbecause you can be certain that values don’t appear by magic. Here are some words to muse over:
‘The world is passing through troubled times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves.
‘They have no reverence for parents and old age. They are impatient of restraint. They talk as if they alone knew everything, and what passes with us as wisdom is foolishness to them.
‘As for the girls, they are immodest and unwomanly in speech, behaviour and dress.’
But ‘the young people of today’ referred to are those in the year 1294, for the above was written by Peter the Monk!
Today, 719 years and 30 days later ,as we leave January 2013, we look around, look back, look forward and maybe, like Burns, ‘we guess and fear’.
Or perhaps like Wordsworth, we remember that ‘we come from God who is our home’, or even like the author of the Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament, we can take comfort from being ‘surrounded by a cloud of witnesses’.
The essentials we must pass to today’s youth, who look to those of us who have the vote, are humility before God, respect for one another and service of our fellow human beings, with an awareness that those who have gone before have found their way more bearable by trusting One who holds all of us in the hollow of His hands.
There are signs of His presence everywhere.
In the gentleness of the flowers left by a memorial bench on the Coastal Path in Lower Largo; in the faithful prayerfulness of Christian people who hold to the Biblical teaching about the best and the right ways to live; in the care and love shown especially to the elderly, the sick and the little children who suffer across the globe – to take but three examples.
Times may be changing but the inextinguishable light of Christ will never dim as it shows you and me how to live, how to behave, and how to see God in the person of His Son, active in a world in dire need of change.
Now is the time! Now is the hour!