Last week, my sister-in-law sent me a copy of an old photograph, showing my brother and I as children. I reckon this must have been taken around 1964, when I was five and Phil was twelve.
I remember nothing at all about this photo being taken and I can’t even place the location. It was a long time ago. However, it did remind me how important my big brother has been down through the years. He’s not only responsible for a good few books on my shelves (some gifts and some that I borrowed 40 years ago and never returned) and my love of Breton folk-rock, but it was Phil who explained the gospel to me on the night I became a Christian.
While I was musing on these things, I also found myself turning back to a passage of Scripture that I return to very often. Paul writing to Timothy (2 Tim. 2:2) says:
You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
Paraphrasing this, Paul says to Timothy, teach others the same things that I’ve taught you, so that they can teach others and those others can teach others, and they can….
The Apostles teaching has passed down through the generations, across the European continent, until after many generations of ‘others’ it reached Phil, who passed the teaching on to me.
To me, this is gobsmacking, all of those generations of Christians – living lives very different to my own, speaking languages that I don’t understand – passing on the message. No doubt some of them were firm believers, strong in their faith, while others were wracked by doubts, but they were all links in a chain which reaches from the Apostles to the spare bedroom in Yorkshire, where I’m typing this.
So what is my responsibility in all of this?
Fleetwood Mac’s words don’t quite fit – but they almost do.
And if, you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)