There is nothing quite like music for stirring the memory. I suppose for some it might be sight or sound, or a particular smell that evokes the recollection of a time and place, for me it’s almost always a song. That happened yesterday when I came downstairs into the kitchen just as “Jon and Vangelis” were singing “I’ll find my way home”. I said to Karen that song always reminds me of Christmas for some reason.
This morning I wakened to the strains of Barry White, yes the late great Barry White singing Billy Joel’s song “Don’t go changing” I’ll award you a gold star if you can remember the year in which both songs charted. Oh maybe I shouldn’t do that you’ll be thinking about the songs and not to point of the story. It was 1981 at Christmas hence the memory, and 1978 respectively. So there! Both songs, in my memory and lifetime going back to a significant period as a young adult and evoking feelings of happiness and contentment, what a sado, or is that just poetic? Don’t wrestle with that question until I’ve finished and hopefully, by then you’ll have forgotten it.
The trigger for this whole thing came as Barry sang as only he could....”I need to know that you will always be the same old someone that I knew...” not as daft as you think because people do change with time, or can anyway. Life changes people, bitter experiences make someone cynical, the accumulation of wealth changes our values, fame, position and number of things we may encounter. Few of us remain exactly the same; people, places, times all change and right now another song has come to mind, the time worn, or is it time honoured words....”change and decay in all around I see, O Thou who changest not abide with me.” Simple words but a profound prayer!
Yesterday I posed the question what will have changed and what will we have learned at the end of the present health crisis. The answer will be as variable as people themselves, and the lessons may be for a season and soon forgotten but here’s the thing, the words of the hymn answer the request of Joel’s song; in the world, people places, attitudes change, but the one on whom our souls rely does not change.
Look at how James, the brother of Jesus puts it in his letter , “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17. Donkey’s years ago when I was able to do expedition work (not to put too fine a point on it) we were told to take our compass bearings from a feature of the landscape that didn’t change or move, not the bread van delivering to the farm. For obvious reasons!
Yet, so often in life, even as Christians we take our bearing by things that can only change and when we’re lost then we wonder why, and how we came to this place. James points the way and the author of the letter to the Hebrews clinches it “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8. Lost your bearings and don’t know why? Is this the answer?
Almighty God you don’t change as we change, all your attributes are constant, your love and mercy are fixed, and in the death of Jesus on the cross your holiness and justice were satisfied. Father, in a world of change keep my eyes fixed on you the One who does not change so that my bearings, and my way might always be true. AMEN
Psalm 62 (Aaron Keyes)