Rich Men Upon Thames

Yesterday I happily spent at Richmond Upon Thames. Whereas the other parts of London are either jammed with tourists, bankers or criminals, Richmond I could move to. The centre was pleasant, the people genteel, the geography agreeable.

The old people looked wealthy and content; they were a stone’s throw from vast green spaces and a half-hour rail journey from central London. Polite young people chattered and gossiped, trendily attired, having carefully selected which retro-look they wished that morning to replicate. Little girls in printed frocks played with little blond-haired boys. The middle aged people were largely absent, for they were busily climbing to the top rungs of their careers in the city; these were the lawyers and the bankers, as well as the consultants who daily attempt to save those from less fortunate boroughs who fall victim to London's endemic knife crime. Most people looked like they had degrees, or were working towards them. The floorspace of the local Waterstones (I passed two branches) would not have disgraced any university town and smart hotels and cafes occupied every corner. Richmond boasts two palaces (Hampton Court and Sheen) as well as three stately homes; the lesser housing stock most of us would consider 'aspirational'. 

Here, graceful bridges crossed the Thames, swans glided down the river and weeping willows carelessly swayed in the breeze, caressing the water's surface. It was around 20 degrees, which is alright for October, and the many parks, commons and riverside terraces were well utilised. As I strolled along the Thames, a number of people bade me “Good Morning”, a most unusual extension of courtesy for London. What a great place to live!

The parable of the rich fool in Luke chapter 12 describes a man who was wealthy and smart by earthly standards. He was not especially wicked or cruel, he just ignored God and confused his soul for his body. Is not this the case in modern Britain, and in also Richmond? Rich on earth, but poor towards God; worldly-wealthy, but spiritually poor. We live for a mere season: the average Briton will breathe for a mere 972 months before receiving a summons to judgement, assuming no accident or illness cuts it short. Bashan's fat cows should heed the slaughterman's approach, and the tall cedars the forester’s coming.

“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:21