The promenade of Grange-over-Sands offers attractive views across Morecambe Bay. The local council has enhanced it further by planting flower beds. In between these are sited dozens of benches. On each one is a little memorial plaque to some deceased person. There’s nothing wrong with this; the benches provide some relatively comfortable seating upon which to enjoy the said views and flowers. Yet there was something rather depressing about them. Was it their quantity, the sheer numbers of dead people being remembered? Was it the names of those loves ones (‘husband, father and grandfather’) left behind, grieving? Was it the relatively short lives of some taken, just around retirement age? Well not one of those little brass plaques offered hope or assurance of life everlasting. None invoked the goodness of God, none appealed to His mercy and grace, none gave Him the glory for a life well lived. 

“He so loved walks on the prom” one proclaimed. Is that it? Is that the sum of a human’s existence?  Perhaps that’s unfair; it might just be an explanation for the bench and its location. Yet this reminded me of Britain’s dechristianisation which is not far off completion.

“We sit with you on this promenade” another rather unconvincingly offered to the deceased. Well I like Grange and the views are fabulous, but if I thought I’d spend an eternity sitting on that cold prom, I’d be terrified of dying. Grange, like many quaint seaside towns, is thronged by old folk, those with sufficient spare time and money to while away their remaining days. Some will read the benches’ dedications, casually noting a name, possibly planning their own contribution towards the tourist’s comfort. How many will heed the warnings of these unintentional, modern memento moris? Death is no respecter of persons, of titles, status, education or health. It comes to us all:

SOLEMN admonition! To whom is it addressed? Reader, it is addressed to you. It may be the last that the God of infinite mercy will ever give you. He has often spoken to you before; sometimes in the language of threatening, sometimes in the tender tones of invitation and promise. He has addressed you by his word, and by his ministers -- by his judgments, and by his mercies. His next call may be from the throne of judgment. O, then, as you value your immortal soul, "To day, if you will hear his voice harden not your heart." "Prepare to meet thy God."

Prepare to Meet thy God, American Civil War Tract, University of North Carolina