Posted by: owizblog | July 24, 2015

Wearing Out Like A Garment, Thought For The Day, BBC Radio Scotland 24 July 2015

Last week, I found a rather elegant green jacket I’d bought in France in 1996. That was a great holiday! And it fitted! What wouldn’t have fitted (if it still existed) was the velvet jacket I found a photo of myself wearing, at university in the seventies, “the decade that taste forgot”. That snap whisked me back instantly to  a special time…

Is that how Neil Armstrong felt about the fancy getup he was wearing in July 1969? Washington’s Smithsonian Institute is launching its first ever crowdfunding appeal to preserve the space suit Armstrong wore on the Moon. Displayed until 2006, even in a glass case, it was deteriorating. It’s lain unviewed in a climate-controlled vault since then. Amazingly, the Smithsonian website says “[S]pacesuits are among the most fragile artefacts in [our] collection…” I wonder if Armstrong reflected on that as he walked the Sea of Tranquillity! It adds “[They] were made to take astronauts to the Moon and back safely, not to last hundreds of years in a museum.” They were made for a moment, and the moment is gone.

Old clothes are complicated. Yes, they put us back in touch with events that made us the people we are today, but they also remind us that time distances us from events, the years separate us from the days of our lives. They simultaneously close and open the gap between us and some of our most defining moments.

That’s why they are a recurrent metaphor in the Bible for the ravages of time. “The heavens will vanish like smoke,” says the Second Isaiah, “the earth will wear out like a garment…” But not God. We miss that, if we imagine that faith is about preserving the past in a glass case, about what we keep unchanged forever. It’s about the present, and the future.

Faith – like space travel – is exploration, joining up where we came from with who we are, and where we are going.

Isn’t that why Jesus summons us to give our spare jackets to people who need them, and go with him to see what comes next? Render unto God what is God’s, and give the rest to the charity shop…

suits TFTD

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