Kathryn and I have been making discoveries as we explore Otford on our daily walks. Areas we thought we knew reveal interesting little treasures. One which we found pleasing was an Oak tree believed to be around 300 years old. (Not such a ‘little’ treasure.) 300 years ago George 1st was King and Britain still used the Julian calendar which meant 25th March was New Year’s Day and September had 41 days. More interestingly as we are in the Garden of England it was the period of the start of the agricultural revolution fuelled by Jethro Tull’s invention of the seed drill and horse-drawn hoe. America was just a colony. A tiny acorn fell to earth and 300 years later is still growing. Fortunate to have avoided the Royal Navies insatiable appetite for oak to build its ships which denuded the British landscape of millions of trees: 1 ship used 2,000 trees.
My first appointment after leaving college was in West Yorkshire. A colleague from Australia was on a five-year secondment to British Methodism when his native country celebrated its 200th anniversary and the local Parish church its 1,000th year. I’m not giving you a history lesson. Our heritage is fascinating, rich and for such a small island we have punched above our weight for centuries. We can’t be proud of everything in our history but neither should we try to encourage shame. I remember walking into Otford library and seeing an exhibition which included a model of the Archbishops palace which was amazing. There I discovered some of the garden walls on Bubblestone Road were part of the original building. Otford also has a fascinating heritage. British heritage is a Christian heritage. Christianity has played a significant part in the formation of Britain since the first century AD with the arrival of Augustine. Some of our Christian history doesn’t bear close scrutiny. Rivalry, jealousy, wealth, power, political ambition have all influenced leading players in the church to serve other than the living God. Through it all the ‘Truth’ weaves and maintains the light of Christ for any who would seek him. Today we are in a weird place. Lockdown, pandemic, isolation and for many anxiety for family and friends who are vulnerable. In a crisis or a difficult and frightening situation which we struggle to understand it’s worth looking back and seeing God’s hand in history. When going through a national crisis and emergency it’s been hard to see God’s hand. Sometimes its generations later which can look back and see what was really happening. What is certain, God has not abandoned His people, He is sovereign, He is working His purpose out. Today as in past generations we are called to trust and obey a faithful and loving Heavenly Father.
Kathryn joins me in wishing you all God’s blessings.