The Helm, Kendal

Family and I visited the Helm at Kendal, a large hill overlooking the town, which once boasted a fort during the iron age (600BC-100AD). There are no surviving walls or ancient tribesmen now there living, but the earthen embankments and ramparts are clear enough. It is now a pleasant place of recreation, suitable for a family picnic with superb views over the town and beyond to the Lakeland fells. Its modern residents include grazing sheep and ponies. As we walked down, I wondered: why do we no longer defend it?

There are two more forts in the Kendal district, the most recent of which is the castle, now itself ruined. We no longer fear the incursions of Scottish tribes and Romans legions, who once presumably attacked this place. They are now now pleasant neighbours, content to sell us their delicious whiskeys and pizzas. Although there is still rivalry between towns and districts, we expect this to be restricted to witty comments and football matches. We do not expect to be massacred or enslaved by them. Consequently, we have moved out of hill forts into cul-de-sacs and housing estates, with their manicured lawns and giant wisteria. The dangers of a past age are dangerous no more.

From what contemporary dangers do we recoil and guard against? Unemployment? Heart disease? Burglary? Idle youths sipping cheap cider on the street corner? Our own society has problems enough. Yet these dangers and hazards will themselves one day evaporate, be rendered nil and void by the changing times. When we Christians enter heaven, the gripes and quarrels of this life will be but dim memories, a meaningless shouting at the wind. The issues which upset us and cost us sleep will become the beautiful hills and undulating landscapes of God’s favour. Are you a Christian- will you even be there? The only thing against which you truly need defence is the guilt and iniquity of your life. Christ offers to pay it on your behalf, or you may pay it yourself forever. From the coming judgement there is no refuge or defence, save Christ's cross.