What would you say to the folks of Downton Abbey?
A lot can happen in a hundred years.
For Christmas, Lindsay and I treated ourselves to the box set of the first seven episodes of ‘Downton Abbey’ – the television series based on the fictional lives of those who lived and worked in a stately home in the early twentieth century. We took it with us on a short post-Christmas break escaping for a couple of days into culture, and engaging with the daily lives and loves of characters of 100 years ago.
It was also quite striking to see how much things have changed since then. Many of these changes have been for the good. Women now have the vote, and house-ownership is common-place. Electricity is taken for granted, whereas then it was a luxury, as was the owning of a car. Communication is now instant, and people can travel to the other end of the world for a two week holiday and still be back in time to start work on Monday morning. Our lives are a lot more secure. Health care and medicines are freely available and far more effective, and the keyhole surgery of today is very different from the hit and miss of the old operating theatres.
Not all the changes have been for the good, however. The last 100 years have seen two world wars, the nuclear bomb, the great depression, totalitarianism, genocide, and 9/11. Advances in science have made the world a smaller place, but for every problem solved, another seems to have been created. People are still dying of hunger and disease, and are still managing to come up with more efficient ways of killing one another as well as new reasons to justify it happening.
The gift of hindsight is a wonderful thing. If you were given the chance, what advice would you give to our forefathers who lived in the time of ‘Downton Abbey’? Which roads would you encourage them to go down, and which would you tell them to avoid?
A similar question, and one I often ponder, is what advice people might want to give our own generation in 100 years time? Would they warn us about getting ourselves trapped in a debt-based economy? Would they plead with us to take better care of our family life? Would they ask us what on earth we were doing to the environment?
A better question for us all might be ‘What advice might God want to give us?’ My feeling is that it would be best summed up in Jesus words in Matthew:
Do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?… But seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’.(Matthew 6.31,33)
The Kingdom of God is how Jesus describes his presence by our side, guiding our paths, protecting us, and enabling us to make a difference. In a world of constant change, here are some words of promise to hold on to:
The steadfast love of the Lord will never fail. His mercies will never come to an end, for they are new every morning.(Lamentations 3.22,23)