Setting Rot

On one of our walls is a copy of a poster we found some years back. It is dated December 8th 1894, and it cheerfully advertises a Band of Hope meeting. Rev Hodge from Elswick was to give an address, while Mr Barritt of Horton was to occupy the chair. A ’programme of songs, dialogues and recitations by the scholars’ was duly anticipated. Admission was threepence, though the two sermons preached the following day, also by Rev Hodge, would have been free to hear.

It all sounds rather lovely. A packed church, cloth caps and bonnets bobbing about as entry was gained; a wholesome event for the whole community. But was the gospel preached? We may hope so, and we have no evidence to the contrary. Yet the rot often sets in when all seems to be well. Satan first strikes in paradise; Job is afflicted while he was ‘at ease’; Christ will return when people speak of peace and safety. I sometimes ponder this and wonder; the cancer does not appear when the symptoms are felt, it was there long before. Are we in decline without our realising? Are we becoming a Laodicea?