The passage of time (Matthew 5:13-20)

“‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I’ve preached on this passage before.  It was on Sunday 22 August 2010 at our previous church.  I preached regularly at the evening services, but this was to be the first, and last, time that I would preach at the Sunday morning service.

A lot has happened since then.  For reasons that I don’t particularly want to dig over we ended up leaving that church less than a year later, and in great sadness.  That year in time profoundly affected me and my family, and in some ways affects us still.  Happily, we are now part of another church family, and although it is possible to forgive hurt that has been caused it is never quite possible to forget.

A lot has happened.  And yet I still remember that service very vividly.  I could tell you the short video clip we played and who whooped “yeah” when my wife, who was leading the service, asked after it “So who wants to change the world?”, and that she had to ask that twice as she was met with silence the first time round…  I could tell you who from the congregation thanked me for the sermon afterwards.

A lot has happened.  It was a long time ago.

Looking at the dates, I preached on this text three and a half years ago.  That doesn’t sound like a long time ago.  But taken as a percentage of my life, that’s over 10%.  That makes it feel like an age.

It’s strange how something can feel such a long time ago, yet also feel as if it only happened yesterday.  Funny what you remember, and what you can’t forget.