“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” [1 Peter ch 1 v3]
A NEW BIRTH INTO A LIVING HOPE
This letter from Peter was to Christians scattered to places where there was persecution and fear, yet, in the midst of this Peter preached Hope. What he meant by “a new birth into a Living Hope”, was the Christian Hope, the Hope of Eternal Life, through the saving work of Jesus on the cross. The Hope which gave people a new future, a new way of living, a new way of worship.
A new life where the old is swept away in the reckoning of God, where whatever they had done, or thought, or had been in the past was blown away like the chaff from the wheat. Simply disappeared, as if it had never been and what is left is the future, the new way of life, the new outlook. This New Birth was a new way of living with a different attitude to life and how to live with a stronger, clearer relationship with God.
It cannot have escaped our notice that the experiences of the early Church have parallels with our own situation during the COVID 19 Pandemic, times of fear and uncertainty, having to keep indoors and out of sight. For us, matters such as our faith, our worship, our inner being and our relationship with God have come into focus over the past few weeks and many have come to think more closely about this along with examining their Christian practice or way of life. It has been a time for contemplation for many, or a time for seeking, and in “finding God”, so many people have found comfort and strength.
We have heard on the news about people going back to work and many grateful to do that but as you can see from some countries who have done this have found that the spike is even higher than anyone thought it would be. Rushing back will only cause more problems for an exhausted NHS and for the country’s health. We need to stick to the disciplines of life we have built up over the weeks and not throw away all the good work that we have done by going out and about too soon. We still have a long haul ahead of us and as Christians we will have to pull together to build up our church as well as being supportive for society.
Think of World War 2 everyone may have celebrated the end of the war but there were many tough years ahead when rationing was still in force, where wages were very low, no money floating around and everyone in the same boat. The country was on its knees and had a tough time pulling out of the effects of war on the economy, work, everyday living, families, health, – physical and psychological. Yet there was such a feeling of hope for the future the, so-called, “Bright New Tomorrow”, which everyone worked towards. Churches were bombed out and rebuilt, thanks given to God for being saved. Human spirit was not diminished and not only survived but improved society, life style, ideals, community, work, worship.
We can take these words of Peter and apply them pragmatically to our lives we will have a “New Birth” or “New Normal” as everyone calls it. We will have to function differently until the “all clear” sounds out, or, a vaccine is developed. Yet this New Life can mean that we can go forward in the strength of God having come closer to Him in these difficult days. It is at this time we all realise how important our faith is to us, it is at this time we all realise how important our church is to us, but most importantly at this time we realise how near we are to God and how comforting is His Strength and His Love.
When we do get back, we can look at how technology has served the church and what could be done differently and how we can reach those who cannot get to church or find sitting in a church or any large building difficult. We can find new ideas of mission and by so doing reach out to our community and neighbourhoods in a way to embrace all people of all ages. I firmly believe that there will be a great flourishing of the church in the future, when we get back together, there will be such a time of celebration and joy. Those whose faith has developed over the last few months will be able to give thanks and come to know the Lord in a new way and be willing to follow His ways and lead a fuller Christian life. Thanks be to God for all of His Blessings and for the church which is firmly in His Hands.
LET US PRAY,
Your Hands, O God are steady and sure, Your Strength is more constant than any force of nature we could name, Your presence calms our souls like no other. We thank and praise You that the church is in Your safe-keeping and that the future holds whatever is Your Will and in Your great mercy You continue to support us as we journey through this time sometimes fearful, sometimes anxious, sometimes in despair at what the future holds.
Save us from our fears and anxieties and help us to allow our burdens to be dropped from our shoulders as we place them before You. Jesus said to come to Him all who were weary and heavy laden and we come in His name.
Loving Lord, we ask a Blessing on those whom we know are in need of prayer today and take a second or two of silence to think of them before You—————————————————— now gather them to You that they might know Your Peace.
We pray for those in leadership positions in government throughout our country, locally and centrally. We give thanks for all those who are Key Workers in every part of our lives and we hope never to take their work for granted again. We pray for the bereaved particularly at this time of isolation and ask for Your Comfort and Peace in their hearts. We pray for the sick, the professionals who look after them and the families who watch and wait.
We pray for a flourishing of the church in whatever shape that might be, we pray for a world-wide return to Christian Values and way of life. We pray for that New Birth into a Living Hope.
We ask in the strong name of Jesus our Saviour and Lord,
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