The subject of trains appears to be quite topical at the moment, with a week long school holiday many commuters have a time away from the new timetable for trains to and from London. The introduction of which has caused major disruption for many, and will cause some serious long-term issues for others.
We seem to have a love hate relationship with railways, while many have to rely on them they still do not like them very much, while at the same time many heritage railways are reaching new heights of popularity.
Much of our affection for railways was gained as children as many of us were introduced to Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends. Stories of some largely friendly trains and friends written by an Anglican minister Rev W Awdry who served as vicar in a number of Cambridgeshire parishes in the 1940’s and 50’s.
A passion for trains and model trains is very common among the clergy, as my wife’s family know too well with one cousin a retired clergyman having built a model railway of the Euro Star complete with tunnel, that all but fills his garden. There it seems a great many more who share the interest.
The link between railways and the bible is not immediately obvious, but travel or moving on has been the experience of Gods people over many generations, the people of Israel as the left Egypt led by Moses as they headed for the promised land, and where they grumbled for forty years (proving that grumbling travellers is nothing new) through to New Testament where the Christians were identified as the people of the way by their enemies. Luke tells of a chap called Saul in the Acts of the Apostles he was determined to capture as many as he could.
‘Breathing murderous threats and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.’
Then and as it seems now, many see Christians, the ‘people of the way’ as a threat to popular culture, seen as those who undermine the wisdom of the age, those who speak up for what they know and yet are so readily criticised by many who have no real understanding of what it is that Christ represents and what Christians stand for.
Then as now the people of ‘the way’ are to be stopped in what it is they are sharing for reasons best known to those who would stop them.
Today in many places Christians are still persecuted and even in Britain and the west the gospel of Jesus is often misunderstood, as each of us travel on through life, maybe the opportunity to discover more of the truth of Jesus will encourage us to explore and find out.
If today you struggle to find a train running when you expected you can think of others who face even greater problems.
If today you are visiting Thomas the Tank engine and his friends or another heritage railway with children, rejoice in the opportunity to do so.
If doubts about the meaning of life assail you, remember and perhaps seek, the people of the way, the journey may not be easy, but the fulfillment is glorious.