Pastor's Page

January 2018

From the Pastor

Psalm 126: Remember when the Eternal brought back the exiles to Zion? It was as if we were dreaming - Our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues were spilling over into song. The word went out across the prairies and deserts,  across the hills, over the oceans wide, from nation to nation: “The Eternal has done remarkable things for them.” We shook our heads. All of us were stunned—the Eternal has done remarkable things for us. We were beyond happy, beyond joyful. And now, Eternal One, some are held captive and poor. Release them, and restore our fortunes as the dry riverbeds of the South spring to life when the rains come at last. Those who walk the fields to sow, casting their seed in tears, will one day tread those same long rows, amazed by what’s appeared. Those who weep as they walk and plant with sighs will return singing with joy, when they bring home the harvest.

How do you normally feel in January? The busyness and excitement of Christmas is past, but winter is still here. New Year’s resolutions are thick on the ground, and most of us will take some time to reflect. New Year often seems like the secular cousin of the Advent and Christmas season: we have spent weeks looking forward to the coming of Jesus and then celebrating his arrival in Bethlehem. Just days later millions launch fireworks to celebrate the coming of January, and we might well wonder why.

 

Yet New Year is an important time for Christians, too. A time to look back and give thanks. A chance to reflect on the year just gone, learning from experiences and trying to make ourselves a little wiser in the process. And New Year is a great opportunity, not just another chance to lose weight or sort some other practical issue, but to decide how we shall journey into the future that God provides. Shall we just see what 2018 brings, or shall we - as individuals and as part of God’s church - determine to live better and more productively for the living God?

 

Psalm 126 speaks powerfully into new starts. Verses 1-3 recall past happiness and gratitude, while verse 4 reminds us of present tense hardships for many, followed swiftly by a prayer that God would send restored fortunes. Many might regret the arrival of a New Year, because they see no end to the difficulties they face. But verses 5-6 command us all to be patient and optimistic: as we begin a New Year, there are clouds and challenges all around - but those who remain devoted to Jesus and earth their whole lives in God’s faithfulness shall one day see a great and abundant harvest. A blessed 2018 to you all.

 

Nigel


December 2017

From the Pastor

“There will be no more gloom for those who were in distress…..The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder…. You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” (from Isaiah 9)

As thoughts return to Advent and Christmas, we turn again to familiar words. There is indeed merit in re-reading texts that we have heard many times before: the passages connect us to tradition and past generations and through our faith to God himself: once more we can climb inside the well-known Christmas narratives, and choose to connect ourselves with the God who chose to reach down to us in a draughty stable and come as a saviour that we might know life in all fullness: a priceless gift that is offered and re-offerd to us, free of charge.

Let’s be struck too by the timelessness of these words: not only do they offer us hope of forgiveness and the joys of new life in the eternal presence of God himself, but they speak of the realities that challenge many. Distress is a reality for millions, as is metaphorical deep darkness. We desperately need cause for joy and, we ourselves need not look to identify those who long for their burdens to be crushed. The world is divided by conflict and wars, and even where peace apparently exists, massive challenges of economic uncertainty remain. Political tensions abound, and we can often feel like warriors, fighting to retain hope in difficult times.

However it was probably always so, even though the problems and chief characters had different names. Jesus came to that Bethlehem cow-shed to give hope and strength - and He does so in 2017 just as on the night of His birth. Pray for the world and all we face, locally and internationally, but be sure to copy those poor shepherds in the hills: hasten to the manger and worship the God of all.

A peaceful and blessed Christmas to all.

Nigel






Comments