Welcome to 2021! A new year to look forward to, an opportunity to review our lives, and to consider our life’s journey. Superficially, we make resolutions to “do better” or to “do more”, or to “do less”! Whatever we think of, we look to change something. At the end of 2020 there was much talk about a new beginning in 2021, throw off the disappointments and frustrations of Covid dominated 2020, and get on with our lives properly in 2021. Well here we are – New Year, new lockdown – I have felt quite stunned at this reversion to our limited activities, our closed homes and so little social contacts. But…. we have learned a little of how best to organise our lives in this “new normal”, we hear of the roll out of the vaccine, and the increased understanding of how best to treat those infected, so there is definite hope in our hearts for a better time ahead.
One aspect of our situation which saddens me is the growing adoration of “science” as the saviour from our woes. In the media, “Science” has taken on a personality – we trust in “the science” to get us out of trouble, to defeat the “virus”, to heal our people. Now I agree – science is a wonderful system of research and study, many people have discovered thousands of amazing and life saving techniques by applying a scientific system to studying our world, but it is a system, not a “being”.
It is people, not “the science”, who by applying their gifts of thinking and designing who are making the discoveries and inventions which we can use to overcome Covid and so many other terrible diseases.
What wonderful abilities we have as people. People mysteriously made in the image of God. As we consider the clinicians and researchers who developed the Covid vaccines, as we give thanks for the new treatments and skills of our doctors, nurses, and other medics, remember to give the ultimate thanks to God, the ultimate clinician and technologist, who gave us the abilities and curiosity we have to learn through scientific systems, give thanks to Jesus Christ, whose life and love have opened the way for our lives to be complete and fulfilled with Him, and give thanks to the Holy Spirit whose inspiration and guidance have led into such an abundance of knowledge and discovery.
I have been considering this weekly Newsletter for a few weeks now. Should I restart as previously? This was begun in March last year as a vehicle for communication to the congregation of North Knapdale, and I expected it to be for a month or two. It has gone on a bit longer. It was also something which I thought would keep things “ticking over” until we could get back to normal. This was really a forlorn hope, and we can safely say now that North Knapdale Church, and all churches across Scotland and beyond, will never get “back to normal”.
If we can let this “normal” go, and look forward and trust that God is doing something more, something different with his people, if we can stand back and allow Jesus to build His church in His way and then join in, then I think we will see wonderful things happening in the Kingdom of God – here and elsewhere.
Twice this week I have been drawn to readings where God’s people are told to “be still” and let God get on with it. Both are in times of trouble and anxiety, in times of fear and uncertainty.
The first is in Exodus Ch 14 verse 13. The Hebrews have escaped from Egypt, but their initial euphoria at freedom and victory has been dashed by the reality of coming up against a new challenge – the Red Sea. The old enemy, the Egyptian army is pursuing them from behind, and ahead it looks like their freedom has been dashed by the barrier of the Red Sea. Trapped between the army of their foes, and the impassable waters. They are worried, and fearful and rushing about trying to do something, anything, to get out of their situation – go back to captivity, give in to Egypt, no apparent way ahead.
This is what Moses says:
“Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He shall accomplish for you today….”
What a promise this is – and an instruction. When we are uncertain, when we are anxious, when the past seems to be coming back to get us and the future is a big barrier – “Stand still”. Stop rushing around, calm your activities, the situation is beyond you, but wait and see what God is going to do. God opens up the sea, and they walk across in the dry land.
How many Hebrews saw that coming! There are times when standing still is all you can do – and trust in what our amazing God will accomplish.
The second reading is in 2 Chronicles Ch 20 vs 15 to 22, and it is too long to write here so look it up to read yourselves. Again the Hebrews are stuck with an overwhelming enemy army coming to get them. They don’t know what to do or where to go – and the Spirit of the Lord says through one of the leaders:
“Do not be afraid or dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s………..you will not need to fight in this battle…”
This is a time, I think, for us to “Stand still” to wait to see what God is doing. To recognise that the battle is not ours, but God’s. No rushing about, or bright ideas, or quick solutions, for us and our church.
We wait, and pray, and praise, for we do know that God is working and will bless us, as we wait.
Sometimes it is difficult to stand still, but let’s do that and see the amazing work of God for his Kingdom.
As part of that standing still I am going to stop this newsletter as a regular item. I will send out important information, and items of interest when they come in, but for the moment I will be silent, and I would ask that we all, together, listen and look out for, and welcome the ways that we see God working as we stand waiting – who knows how we will see the Red Sea parting!