I suppose being from Northern Ireland means that we love talking about the weather. And our default can be to complain. Combining those things means that we spend a lot of time complaining about the weather.

Even during our recent ‘heat wave’ I saw this to be true. 2 days of glorious unbroken sunshine leaving us exhilerated and dehydrated. We had found an oasis of sun and we were loving it! But it was on the 3rd day that I heard the comment in my local shop.

A few clouds loomed on the horizon. A slight breeze began to float through the air. And that was when I heard the comment…

“Looks like the weather’s on the turn. That’s us back to doom and gloom.”

A small cloud, some wind and the weather was on the turn. She wasn’t wrong meteorologically, but something jarred with me in that moment. We love to point it out when things aren’t quite as good as they used to be. We constantly hark back to the former days of old that seemed all so glorious. We notice the slightest sign of doom and gloom, and use it to predict some sort of demise.

I’ve heard it a lot recently.
Society is going downhill.
Morals have been lost.
The church is in decline.
We live in darker days.

But I don’t buy it. (As if this country was in a brilliant place 30 years ago or the church had it sorted anyway…!)

Now I don’t deny that the world is a broken place. In fact, I see signs of it all the time.
But I also refuse to believe that these are darker days than before. Because I see signs of the opposite all the time.

These are times of hope and opportunity in society.
These are days of change and promise in the church.

I see this in growth of a Food Bank ministry that is literally feeding hundreds of families a week.
I see this in a community of people raising thousands of pounds for a young family devastated by sudden death.
I see this in the 800 young people I stood among on Saturday night travelling across the world this summer discovering what it means to serve others.
I see this in the desire of churches in our area to unite together to show love to their local community through SPARK.
I see this in many people in this land, albeit slowly, leaving past hatreds between us.
I see this in a team of young people who have visited their local residential home every month for the past year.
I see this in the transformed stories of many people who have been joining our church recently.
I see this in small and simple acts of kindness shown by normal people every day.
I see this in the forgiving response of an American church following the bullets of a gunman.
I see this in the joy and sense of community within a Ugandan community close to my heart.

So I guess it depends where you look. And depends how you perceive it.
Don’t swallow the myth or allow the potential of your impact to be disarmed.
Society is being shaped. The local church is serving. The worldwide church is on the move.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19