Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future, he will honour Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy as they rejoice before you: Isaiah 9: 1-2
It has been yet another challenging year. Once again, it seems that we have had our roots shaken. The war in Ukraine feels so close to us. The rise in the cost of living and our fuel bills challenge us as never before. With fewer Stipendiary Ministers in the United Reformed Church, Church Life Review and our general decline, it may feel that we are living in a truly dark and tumultuous time. It is a real test of our faith to hang on and believe that God is still doing something amazing in the world when change, subversive politics and war surround us.
So, praise the Lord for Christmas where we welcome light in our darkness. We are reminded that God comes to be with us again. We don’t need to be afraid of our future because we are all in God’s hands. We have had to be creative in our thinking the last 2 years. As I go around the Synod, I still sees signs of hope and growth. New people coming through the doors of our churches. Warm Hubs and other mission activities growing. I see people offering themselves for ministry of all types. It is very exciting. Yes, there are still places where challenges exist, but that is where God is calling us to be light.
Can I encourage you to reread the story of Jesus’ birth. To sit with the passages and wonder, ‘what does Jesus’ arrival mean for me?’ There are Advent bible studies going on all over the Synod which are a great way to engage further with this wonderful story. As in Isaiah 9:1-2 above, Christ is at the centre of Christmas which is something good to share with our congregations. Is Christ at the centre of our lives though? With Christ at our very core, we will have peace and can be reassured that we and the world are still in God’s hands.
Please pray for your Ministers, Local Church Leaders and Lay preachers during this busy season. They offer such a great service for the Church. Have a wonderful Advent and Christmas. May we all catch the hope of Christ to share at this dark time. May God continue to do a ‘new thing’ in you and in me.