Elder’s letter July/August 2017
One day, a few months ago, I was talking with a group of children and their parents. The children were aged between four and eight years, and we were talking about what we liked most about the spring. The children were bright-eyed and joyful as they mentioned such things as chicks, lambs, spring flowers and blossom in the trees. Later, an elderly man came over to me and tapped me on the shoulder. He had heard the earlier conversation. ‘You may like blossom’ he began, ‘but I hate it.’ He continued, ‘It drops all over the car and makes a mess of the paintwork, then it piles up in the gutters and blocks the drains!’
Perhaps, as we get older, we tend to fall into the habit of seeing all the negative things about something rather than the positive points; and maybe that is the result of a lifetime of responsibilities and the need to foresee problems and cope with them. Even so, it is an outlook that contrasts with that of the children who were so happy to see signs of the spring, and it sometimes spreads into more and more areas of life. I am reminded about Jesus’s words in Matthew’s gospel chapter 18 verse 3, where he tells us that we should become like little children if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven.
There is a famous story that you may know about a visitor who arrives in a town and stops to speak to an old man who is sitting on a bench. ‘What are the people like in this town?’ asks the visitor. The old man answers, ‘What are they like in your own town?’ The visitor scowls and replies, ‘They are dreadful people: dishonest, unwelcoming, quarrelsome and unreliable.’ The old man nods and says, ‘You’ll find them exactly the same here.’ Later that day another visitor arrives in the same town and asks the same old man the same question. The old man again replies, ‘Well, what are the people like in your own town?’ This second visitor smiles and answers, ‘They are wonderful people: honest, helpful, hardworking and caring.’ The old man nods and says, ‘You’ll find them exactly the same in this town.’
As Christians, we know that our attitudes and outlook are often noted by other people. Hopefully, they may see that our lives are indeed enriched by the good news of the gospel and that our faith is a joyful one. If so, we ourselves can also benefit by looking out for good things in the world and in the people we meet. The more we are able to notice the good things around us, the more good things we shall find.
Yours in fellowship,