Lord, you are the Alpha and the Omega – the Beginning and the End.
We come before you knowing that for a beginning to occur, something else has to end.
As we spend this January season focussing on healing and renewal, may we be reminded that reflection on what has been, builds us into who we are today, but does not keep us static, for we are always looking forward to where you are and where you want us to be.
As we challenged ourselves last week and looked at how we challenge others while focussing on your example of love, this week may we understand more about what sustains us in our faith and why change – though difficult – is also necessary.
In the name of Jesus we claim it.
Renewal and Healing
Last week we talked about the fact that healing and renewal are often attempted at the beginning of a year. It may begin when we ‘set a self-challenge’. It may also happen through the challenge of situations or people around us.
The gospels – as we found out – have some input for us. But change for renewal and healing can only happen if we realize something is not right in our present – maybe through what has happened in the past –maybe because of a sense of incompleteness, hurt or dis-ease (unease) or even through an unrealised hope.
Sometimes renewal is a product of refocussing ourselves not on what has been or what is – but on what could be. Also shifting the picture from what can I do to what will God do.
Both the Old and the New Testaments speak of renewal that comes from refocus.
Stephanie will now bring us our Bible Readings for today.
Bible Readings : Isaiah 43:18-19
18 ‘Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
& Isaiah 65:17-19
17 ‘See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice for ever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.
& Revelation 21: 5-7
5 He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’
6 He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
At your tables, spend a few minutes talking about:
- How one or all of these passages speak to you?
- Share how ‘letting go’ and ‘letting God’ may have created an unexpected opportunity.
- Has there been a time when you felt your past has kept you captive
In Romans 8:28, we read about a future in and with God. “All things work for the good of those who love the Lord.”
I receive a daily devotional from the Henri Nouwen Society each day. This is the meditation for 1st January 2019 entitled “A New Beginning”
We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a new beginning, as a unique opportunity to make everything new. Imagine that we could live each moment as a moment pregnant with new life. Imagine that we could live each day as a day full of promises. Imagine that we could walk through the new year always listening to the voice saying to us: “I have a gift for you and can’t wait for you to see it!” Imagine.
Is it possible that our imagination can lead us to the truth of our lives? Yes, it can! The problem is that we allow our past, which becomes longer and longer each year, to say to us: “You know it all; you have seen it all, be realistic; the future will just be a repeat of the past. Try to survive it as best you can.” There are many cunning foxes jumping on our shoulders and whispering in our ears the great lie: “There is nothing new under the sun… don’t let yourself be fooled.”
When we listen to these foxes, they eventually prove themselves right: our new year, our new day, our new hour become flat, boring, dull, and without anything new.
So what are we to do? First, we must send the foxes back to where they belong: in their foxholes. And then we must open our minds and our hearts to the voice that resounds through the valleys and hills of our life saying: “Let me show you where I live among my people. My name is ‘God-with-you.’ I will wipe all the tears from your eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone” (Revelation 21:2–5).
The second factor today in understanding where healing and renewal is found is in the re-discovery of what it is that sustains me in my faith journey.
This is what Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:14 to 4:8 in the Message transliteration:
14-17 But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.
1-2 I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.
3-5 You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.
6-8 You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming.
For Paul spiritual sustenance is found in:
- Reading scripture
- Being guided by it
- Being reminded that God often breaks into our lives
- Knowing that we don’t have to be theological giants.
- The reassurance that God will do what is right.
For the little girl in this video clip it was that ‘God loves everyone and commands us to do so.’
Things that sustain our faith. I would like to share an example with you – the words of a song – ‘and the depth of grace, the forgiveness found – to be called a child of God, just makes me say how much I love you, O my Saviour, my Lord and friends.
On your tables discuss either a Bible reading, a song (hymn) or even an event or an understanding that has sustained you on your faith journey.
The service then moved into Holy Communion