You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
During World War 2 London suffered extensive bombing. Since the London docks and much of the associated industry was in the East end of the city, that area was hit harder than most. As a result many people were made homeless as their homes, schools, shops and factories had been destroyed or made uninhabitable. After the war ended pre-fabricated buildings were put up to provide housing as a temporary measure. They were often damp and draughty, but they provided somewhere to live. A more permanent, though radical, solution was to build entirely new towns in the countryside outside London to house those made homeless by the war. One of those New Towns was Harlow in Essex. The reaction of those lucky enough to be offered a house was mixed - a new house – great, but: “Where is Harlow? Its miles away! What about our friends? How will we get back to see Aunt Dorothy? Dad will have to find a new job; he can’t travel back to the Docks every day and Jack will have to go to a new school.” Thus it was with some trepidation that they boarded the train to take them to their new home which seemed a long way off in the country. When they got there everything was so different. Each house had spacious bedrooms and a bathroom. (No need for tin baths in front of the living room fire or trips down the garden to the outside toilet!) Each house had its own garden with a lawn. The roads were wider with more space between the houses. But there was no corner shop at the end of the road at which to chat with friends. Now there were walkways to get to the new shopping arcade. The new neighbours took some getting used to as well. It was all so different some wanted to go back to the old house, the old ways.
Jesus offers us a new home, a new way of life, although, that new way is not easy and some will return to their old ways, their old home. He asks us to give up our old bad habits, our pursuit of power and riches, to follow Him. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’” Matthew 16:24(NIV). He knows how difficult that will be, yet earlier He says: ‘Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:38 (NIV). But God also says: ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ Hebrews 13:5(NIV) for which we must be eternally grateful.
Are we ready to move to a new life; a life with Christ? As the people of the New Towns found, that new life may be difficult at first, yet it is a much better, more rewarding life.
This year Harlow celebrates 70 years since it took its first new resident. Happy Anniversary Harlow.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years