Viewpoint from Tony Mallion for 8th March 2013
Cliff Park Community Church
Trustee, Identity Youth Project
One of the reasons for the enormous success of the latest James Bond film Skyfall is the return of what is possibly the world’s most famous car, the Aston Martin DB5. At the charity preview at Great Yarmouth’s Hollywood Cinema in aid of the Louise Hamilton Palliative Care Centre, there was quite a reaction from the packed audience when 007 took the iconic vehicle out of storage.
Many of us were instantly transported back in our teenage years when the car made its unforgettable debut in Goldfinger. It wasn’t just the timeless styling but the gadgets that ‘Q’ and his colleagues had added to assist the secret agent, including revolving number plates and the passenger ejector seat. And there was also a tracking device on the dashboard which guided Bond through Europe to the villain’s lair in Switzerland – how impossibly futuristic that looked almost half a century ago!
Today it is commonplace to have this kind of navigation aid in our hands on a mobile phone. And satnav is something that most people have in their cars. I say most people as I’ve only recently caught up with the technology, spurred on by a difficult diversion when the M3 was closed by an accident last autumn. Using a map along darkened Berkshire country roads after a long journey from Cornwall was no fun – a satnav quickly followed.
Now there’s a re-assuring voice on the dashboard and idiot-proof clear graphics to guide you to your destination. No longer left wondering how far it is to the next junction, you are told precisely. Simple! How amazing it is to think that we, in our car, are being personally and instantly linked with all this information via satellites orbiting the Earth.
Yet how much more awe inspiring it is to think – if we can get our heads round it – that we can worship and believe in a God who is infinitely more vast than all of that; a God whom Christians believe created not just our world, but the whole universe. Later this month we will remember that this same God sent his son, Jesus, into the world to die for us on a cruel cross. Incredible? Yes. Unbelievable? No.
And ,if we are willing, this same God can guide us daily through life. True, it might not always be quite as simple as a satnav, but guide us he most certainly will. Centuries ago, long before Jesus, when journeys would have been plotted by using the stars and possibly early maps, in Psalm 25, King David wrote:
Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
There’s an old hymn which is still sung regularly at Welsh rugby matches and other big occasions. Some know it as Bread of Heaven but most will recognise it by the opening line: Guide Me Oh thou Great Redeemer (or Jehovah). Maybe, even today, deep down this is still our prayer?