PASTORAL LETTER FOR JANUARY 2021
Who would have believed when we brought in the New Year at the beginning of 2020, just what a year it would be? The answer obviously, is none of us, for no one could have imagined the events which unfolded, and none of us thought we’d still be living in such strange times at the start of 2021. Yet, we are, and what’s more, we’re still keeping together as a church family. We’ve learned so much in these past months about doing church in a different way, and these lessons will stay with us as we begin to look to the future, whatever it may hold.
One of my heroes of the bible is Joshua. He had to step into Moses' giant sandals and assume leadership in the most precarious and unsettling of times. Israel was about to cross the Jordan River at flood stage and attack the city of Jericho. The Israelites had been slaves, then desert nomads. What did they know of war? They couldn't stay where they were, but to go where God was leading was frightening, fraught with change. (And you thought being in tier four was difficult!) God prepared Joshua with these words: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).
Change is one constant, but the other constant is God himself, the One who never changes, who sees the end from the beginning, and for whom the future holds no surprises. God has made us a solemn promise: to be with us always. That promise holds wherever we are, and is not invalidated by the unexpected. Whatever 2021 holds for us, God has promised to be there with us.
I really don't like roller coasters. In theme parks, I’m the one who holds the coats, while the others go on the rides, I think it’s because I don't like fear. Unfortunately, life in this New Year is likely to be that kind of ride, with its dizzying heights, its gut wrenching turns, and its freefall downslopes. But we have a seatmate who is God himself, there to steady us, protect us, and guide us. Today he repeats to us those timeless words that echo across the centuries and into this New Year: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
I wish you all and happy and blessed New Year.
Yours in love,