February Thought – Pressing On

Philippians 3:13-14 says, ‘Brothers and sisters, I do not regard myself as having taken hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’ In these verses, Paul is speaking of the journey we are all on. Essentially, he says, ‘I have not yet arrived but I press on’. This is the place where many of us are in the midst of the pandemic. We know there is an end in sight but it rmains difficult for the present. Some of us are tired and weary; some are bored and fed up; some are just frustrated. The reality is that there is little any of us can do to change the situation excpet stick with the guidelines and have our vaccination when it is our turn. However, in knowing that this is not going to last forever, we can begin to set our sights on what lies ahead. God has not finished with us yet and there are many things that he still has for us to do, individually, and as a church. My encouragement to all of us at this moment is ‘press on’. There are better times ahead. Let us press on towards that goal and embrace all that God has for us in the future.
God bless
Richard

Christmas 2020

This will be a Christmas like no other we have experienced. As yet, we do not know what restrictions will remain in place or who we will be able to meet with. Buying presents has been even more of an online experience than in previous years which will give further challenge to retailers. Christmas parties are just not going to happen which has implications for the hospitality industry. On TV, there is the usual plethora of Christmas cooking programmes which are showing us how to make food that we probably won’t be able to share with anybody. Christmas carol concerts / services will be via YouTube, Facebook or some other platform. All the traditions that make up a ‘normal’ Christmas are under threat.
One phrase that I have heard bandied about on TV is ‘the spirit of Christmas’. I have no idea what that actually means but I think it is a reference to events incorporating family, friends and fun that occur at this time of year. The issue I have is not that such things are unimportant, but that the real meaning of Christmas is not in such events but in one event: the advent! The coming of the Son of God to this earth to bring salvation, healing, forgiveness, hope and life for all humanity. However, you spend your Christmas this year, take time out to give thanks to God for stepping into human history for your sake and for mine!
God bless
Richard

Autumn Fog

So far, this autumn has been fairly mild. We have had some rain, buy most days have been fairly clear. Usually, we associate autumn with mists and cold morning starts. Maybe they will come in November? One thing I really do not like doing is driving in mist and fog. I have experienced some very scary journeys in such conditions. The issue is that, if we cannot see the road ahead, we cannot prepare ourselves for what it will bring. Each twist and turn meets us as a surprise and any hazard only appears to us at the last minute.
At the moment, I feel like we are all in a bit of a fog. We do not know what the future will bring or even when the mist that has descended at present will clear. Each week, things change. Spring seems a long way away. All of this breeds a level of anxiety and insecurity and I am sure all of us, during the present period, have experienced good days and bad days as a result.
There is one thing that is certain, however, and that is that God holds our futures in his hand, whether that be for us as individuals, or as a church. He knows the end from the beginning and none of this surprised him or caught him unawares. Our trust is not in governments or councils, or even in the NHS. Our trust for the future must be in God and in Him alone, for there is no firmer anchor to help us hold steady than him!