What do the Farne Islands and London have in common? In 2012 I took a boat trip with the older of my two brothers to celebrate his 60th birthday on the Farne Islands. Last week, I had lunch at the Barbican in London with my younger brother to celebrate his 60th birthday.

What places of contrast! Idyllic islands, unspoilt by human beings and home to birds and seals. And London. Last week London shocked me, country bumpkin that I’ve become. That part of the capital is a mass of glass and steel towers. What would the Romans think of it – they who built the London wall, part of which still stands rock-solid beneath the towers? And the builders of an old church that’s also dwarfed by its new neighbours?

My first job, as a teenager in the school holidays, was in an insurance company close to the Bank of England. I spent a numbingly tedious month filing dusty card folders. Oh, how the city has changed in appearance, as have its companies’ methods of filing! Man’s money box towers and nature’s islands…

Both my visits, however, were celebratory, and reminded me that in all the changes and progression of life, there is someone who is unchanging and as relevant now as ever: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”


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