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Energy & Communications

The grid mast bringing the supply of electricity to the Regional College opposite me and the mobile radio masts just a quarter of a mile along the road are the local landmarks of this area of Cambridge. While the supply of energy globally is a 'hot' issue at the moment it is the ever increasing possibilities of communication - speech, texts, video which probably counts for more in the population at large. Who hasn't got a mobile phone? Apparently, according to some wise person, the over 65s don't need one; but the under 25s cannot seem to be able to be without one, on the street, in the train, even on their bikes! A welter of conversations, half over-heard.

The explosion in personal communications is of a piece with this talkative age. It is rare for a radio programme, even if it is music based, not to have a bevy of consultants giving their views or the 'ordinary' listener being asked to send in their problems or comments. The opposite end of the spectrum is the silence in the university libraries where students, young and old, wrestle with the outpourings of writers old and new, and seek to add their insights to the fund of knowledge.

That revered New Testament holy strip cartoon of the Revelation to John has the interesting sentence sandwiched in between the praises and prayers of the saints before the throne of God and the terrible doom laden messages of the angels charged with announcing the end of the beast and all who oppose the gospel of Jesus - 'And there was silence in heaven for the space of about half an hour.' The commentators are not agreed as to what this might mean (many of course say Revelation is the least Christian book in the whole bible!) but perhaps it is a useful icon to be kept before the mind of many who compose our talkative church services!

It is Advent in the Christian Calendar. Cheerfully sung in by Charles Wesley's hymn 'LO! he comes with clouds descending ...' depicting a space of time before Christmas which looks for the END. There have been many, of course, at the turn of the centuries, who prophesied the end of the present age with warnings and prophecies akin to the Revelation to John; but we have to say that this was, for no real fault of their own, a misconception of our ancestors, (and of Charles Wesley). Life in the near future could possibly end with our own destructive tendencies. But the hope of the gospel is really more like the exciting anticipation of our young mobile phone users, laying hold of all that is to hand to live now in the realities of the present - in Christian terms, in the God who is with us:


... and a space of silence in the wonder of that.

© Aelred Arnesen

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