The word for the next twenty years must be “Immediacy”. Plaster it on our bridges, on our walls, on our porn sites, on our webpages, on our houses of parliament, on our legal firms, on our relationships. Dare I say it, plaster it on our churches and our theology. After all we’ve just watched in almost intrigued horror as a whole denomination – Bethel – virtually demanded an immediate resurrection online for the whole word to see.
Twenty years ago we caught our collective breath as a nation when we saw this beautiful image appear for the climax of the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney Harbour. It was a wonderful moment, a celebration of something central to Sydney for so long. The humble story of Arthur Stace, transformed by Jesus, and transformed by eternity.
Stace wrote that word in copperplate script across the streets of the city for decades. For so long a mystery, he was eventually outed. A man of little learning, it was as if God had gifted him to write that word across the heart of an often heartless city. Mr Eternity he was called, before he was himself called into eternity.
I remember the last day of 1999, standing on the beach in Western Australia, sun going down on another long hot summer day. We’d just bought our first house, a humble 1920s wooden cottage that was going to take a long time to renovate and bring up to scratch. It felt like an eternity!
A lot has happened in my life in the past twenty years, a lot of growing up, and growing older, and growing more joyful and more sober each year. I was a young man then. Not so young now. Eternity beckons.
And a lot has happened in our nation. There have been plenty of rivals for that word “Eternity” in the past twenty years. In a sense although it was a joyous occasion to see that word splashed across the Harbour Bridge, it also felt like a line being drawn under another era.