A Quiet Word – January 2021

As I pause and write this during Advent and in the run up to Christmas, I reflect on what has been a difficult and challenging year for all of us, where we have experienced both highsand lows. While we have shared the joys of seeing Aimeéand Adrian professing their faith in Jesus and going through the waters of Baptismand also the recent infant dedication, we have also shared in the sadness of those dear friends from our church family who are no longer with us and are safe in the loving arms of our Lord. We of course fondly remember with love dear Augy, Gwen R, Gwen S and Pearl.While they are gone but they will certainly not be forgotten.

I know that most of us,for variousdifferent reasons, will be glad to see the end of 2020 and now look forward maybe in anticipation for 2021 and what it might hold for us both individually in our everyday lives and also as a church family. What is your hope for the new year –what wouldyou most like to do once the country returns to some normality?Perhaps you are hoping for better things when you will be able to see loved ones and friends more regularly and doing things together without the need for social distancing or uncomfortable face masks; when our weekly groups can meet again where we can engage missionally with our community;or when we will be able to sing in church and have a chat over a cup of tea or coffeeafterwards.(Amen to that!)While the new year will undoubtedly begin with ongoingchallenges from the past one, I regard this as anexciting opportunity and as a new beginning for us as a church. Interestingly,there are two instances in the Bible where it talks about beginningswhich I think are especially relevant to us and speak directly into our situation as we begin a new year.

It is through Jesus that God created the new beginning we read about in the opening sentences of the New Testamentin John 1where “in the beginning…the word (Jesus)became flesh”-where God in human form came and livedamong the people. This was in a sense “a reset”of the original beginning we read about in Genesis 1-2at the start of Old Testament when“in the beginning”…God created the earth and all living things including the first human beings. The “good” worldthat God created then started to go badly wrong when Adam and Eve,the first human couple,were taken in by Satan to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruitin Gen. 3. This started anunfortunate chain of events where sin entered the world andit became broken. Subsequently, God tried to fix it many times through a series of chosen human leaders, kings and then prophets to try to get His people to turn back to him. Ultimately while there were some signs of hopeand recovery, it didn’tget the job done because of a mixture of human weakness, sin, corruption and greed. Trying to repeat a similar approach down the generations just didn’t work, so God tried a different approach.

This is certainly food for thought.While both Genesis 1 and John 1 indicatethat Jesus(God) had been present at the time the earth was first created, the big difference between the first beginning and the second beginning was that Jesus –God himself came into the world to live, observe and try to teach and to heal the people. And through His death on the cross and resurrection provided a once and for all way for all humankind to be forgiven, saved and reconciled back to God. I am sensingthat John 1 –in the new beginning –in the coming of Jesus at Christmas provides us with a helpful reset anda fresh vision in 2021 as together we start to seek a new beginning;as we perhaps review and adapt existing missional and outreach activities; and as we prayerfully consider new ways we can be churchas weseek to recommence God’s missionto reach the unreached in our community around us. Seeking and letting God guide us and letting Him set outour agenda will be key. Knowing that God is in control gives us confidence and assurance that he is Immanuel –that God is with us.

We continue to hold in prayer our country and our town at this time and all those we know in the church family and wider fellowship who are finding life difficult especially those who are unwell; those feeling isolated; those who have been bereaved;and those friends we know who are experiencing ongoing health, financial, job and family worries.May they and you know God special blessings in the coming weeks. Stay safe.

Blessings and love,

Robert