“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” [Ecclesiates 3 v1]
We have had a time of “waiting” during Advent and a time of “celebration” during Christmas, now have a time of “looking” as we gaze forward in hope and in anticipation to 2021. in the Nativity account, the Shepherds had looked for a stable with a baby in a manger, the Magi looked for a star to find the child and all worshipped in their way.
Now the Holy Family are on the move looking to Egypt for safety, knowing not how they might survive, just glad to be away to safety no matter how uncertain that would be. The Shepherds had long gone back to the hills and their sheep, the Wise men looked east and travelled to where they had come from. All on the move back into everyday life, their priority now was the daily tasks of living with all the excitement behind them.
Just as for us, we look back at the Christmas build up and celebrations, the December services we managed to get in the church, the on-line services and TV worship, we can give thanks that some form of worship has taken place. Now we look forward, in the present climate we are restricted and daily tasks take up out time as we mark time waiting for the Tier system to change, for vaccines, for a day when we can all meet together. As the writer of Ecclesiastes points out – “there is a time for everything” and it gives us the opportunity to look at our faith and at ourselves as we look back on our lives and forwards to the future.
Looking back is not so easy, there are some who may find it interesting to recall how we coped with the “Lockdown” and bring to mind all the stories of how quickly people rallied to help each other. There are many who may recall the “Day of Small Things” where simple pleasures helped us through, the cheery phone calls, the Face Time with families, those blessed with a garden or a good place for a daily walk. All a blessing and life – saving, and we can only give thanks to God for these small mercies. Throughout it all we found our priorities in life and hung on in there in the Strength of God.
Looking back also allows us to trace our Faith Journey and look and see what God has done for us in His way and in His time. “Count your Blessings” is a lovely hymn which encourages to look and see what God has done. A good exercise [if you have the time] is to get a blank piece of paper and a pen. Draw a pathway from the top to the bottom, zig-zagging all the way down. Now start with your earliest memory of church or Sunday School and write down along that pathway any one or any event, or, any book that influenced your faith. When you finish, I think you might be surprised at the affect some folk have had on you or the way you have been led to faith and the “God – incidences” in your life, then say a little prayer of thanks for all that God has done.
Looking forward, well, that is not something we can know for certain, but we can have hopes and dreams for the future. The light of hope for the nation is the vaccine and we give thanks to God for the dedication and expertise of our scientists and for those who will manufacture and deliver it. Our hopes though are more personal and often held deep within us, why not name them? Write down your most cherished hopes, no matter how unlikely they might seem, no matter how unearthly they might be, pray for each one, and remember that with God everything is possible.
The source of Hope is our Hope in Jesus Christ our Saviour who has walked with us through the tough times and continues to walk with us. He brings comfort to the broken hearts of all those who mourn such loss, made so poignant with the effects of Covid. He brings Courage to those anxious and afraid, Companionship to the lonely and the Way forward to the lost. Jesus is our Hope in a strange new reality, our strength, our Shepherd who leads the Way and who brings His Peace to our hearts. May I wish you all a very safe and peaceful New Year and every Blessing for 2021.
THE PRAYER TODAY IS WRITTEN BY JOANNA LOVEOF THEWILD GOOSE COMMUNITY AND CAN BE FOUND ON THE WORSHIP SECTION OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND WEB-SITE
because of You there was a beginning.
because of You there is a continuing.
because of You there will be a completing.
From the emptiness before the birth of time
to the fullness of the new earth and heaven,
Holy Spirit, You breathe and blow,
dancing to our Creator’s tune,
in step with our Saviour’s purposes.
Fill our expectant hearts
as we stand on this threshold of a new year.
We have been here so many times;
and we have never been here before.
Source, Saviour, Spring of life,
refreshing and replenishing God,
all that pours from You is good and wise and true.
Soak us with the delight of Your surprising nearness
and let us splash in puddles of joy.
God in Community,
how privileged we are to be Your people,
chosen and known and loved by You,
here and now this morning
and in all our days gone by and still to come.
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