Last week, Jimmy Adam passed away. He was an Edinburgh taxi driver, a collector of *things* and the first person I can (currently) recall being a bit of a technology geek. Certainly the first person I can remember having knowledge of how PA systems worked. He was unashamedly himself, full of life and most of all, I always remember him making time for me if I was around their house or at their church. I wasn't able to attend the funeral, but my Dad said it was quite something - full of life, and amusingly, the traffic jam outside was a sight Jimmy would have been proud of.
It's exam time in Scotland. And in England too. And probably in other parts of the world, but I can't confirm or deny that. Anyway, I was reflecting on other influences on my youth.
For my Higher English dissertation, I wrote about Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut Junior. The premise of my essay was that the story was really about there being nothing new under the sun. As the main character in the book shifts back and forward through time, the cyclical nature of his experiences was stark to me and while his cynicism increased, the core of the issue was the same.
There's nothing new under the sun.
The phrase is taken from a book in the bible. I love the book of Ecclesiastes. Many people don't. But it's wonderfully grounding. And there's some great teaching on it from Rob Bell and others.
The word translated as "meaningless" in this book is more like our word vapour. It's passing. It's not going to last. The writer of the book is calling us to remember that the troubles of life aren't forever. There's ebbs and flows, but the fabric of our physical existence isn't all there is. Jesus would later come along and say “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
I love how Jesus' overcoming wasn't the aggressive forcing of a worldview or the killing of anyone who stood against him in person. But he overcame by having identity and therefore security based on an understanding of who he was and what that meant for how he lived.
It's liberating to have a wider view than current moments of trial. And this week for me has had a few. I'm sure it has had many for you.
So when I saw this tweet and followed through to the article, it was a great reminder of the repetition we experience in life. The first Santram ad was witty:
The spoof by Nando's was a bit cheap, but had a humour to it:
The reply from Santram was classy:
But actually, the first ad was a bit of a re-working of someone else's idea anyway:
Because there's nothing new under the sun. Or on the internet.
People will rip off your ideas, your wallet and even your emotions. Trials will come. For those grieving the passing of a loved one, may you be comforted.
But there's a hope beyond our present experiences that means we don't have to fear those moments of loss. We can embrace them as part of the journey. As how we grow. As how we can become more like Jesus.