Once Christmas and New Year are over, it seems a long wait now for Spring to come. We are probably coming into the coldest part of the winter, and everything can seem just a bit flat!
We have taken down the decorations, trying to lose the weight we have put on over the festive season, and as we need to bundle up with so many jumpers and scarfs the incentive is sometimes hard to find!
The days are still quite short, and dark and everything can seem dull even the skies! Our lives are like the weather, and the seasons. We have times of really good things happening, and other times which may be difficult, but generally things are for a season. Wise Solomon wrote about this in the Bible, in Ecclesiastes, where he said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven”
The seasons make the year interesting, the sense of anticipation of spring, when everything starts coming to life, and flowers and trees are budding; birds are singing. The long, hopefully hot days of summer, and the glorious colours of the autumn. Who knows whether we shall see much snow this winter time, but it is always nice to contemplate logs on the fire, hot soup and cosy jumpers.
Things do always seem better when the sun is shining, and there is a lot of light. In biblical thinking when the sun goes down in the evening that is the end of that day. Whatever happened during the day now is in the past, and the day’s problems become yesterday’s problems, the mistakes become yesterday’s mistakes. When the sun sets, the day is over, a new day has begun although it is still dark.
When Jesus died, it was before the sun went down, and just prior He was placed in a tomb, totally inert and lifeless. To His followers it seemed like the end, but the old was over and a new way was coming. Jesus said He was the Light of the World, and if we believed in Him we would never walk in darkness. As the sun came up on the third day He burst out of the tomb rising as the sun does, for a new day had broken. In John’s Gospel it is written, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men”. Death could not hold him, for He is life, and in Him is eternal life.
As we embrace Jesus into our lives, it is like a light coming on. Everything seems different, life has a purpose, and we see things we have never seen before. We can leave our old lives behind and embrace a new way of living.
May God bless you richly with love, peace and joy
May He always be there for you, and those you care about.
May He bless you with health, provision and comfort
In Jesus’ Name
It was 1939 that firmly established the Royal Christmas Broadcast as a British tradition. Dressed in the uniform of the Admiral of the Fleet, sitting in front of two microphones on a table at Sandringham, King George VI spoke live to offer a message of reassurance to his people. It was to be a landmark speech and was to have an important effect on the listening public as they were plunged into the uncertainty of war:
“A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle we shall remain undaunted.”
He went on to quote from Minnie Haskins’ poem “The Gate of the Year” (1908) :
I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’
I wonder what you are thinking about the prospect of a new year. Perhaps 2017 was not as good as expected and some unexpected things happened? For Theresa May losing her government majority and the subsequent dilemma of the Brexit negotiations has caused her many sleepless nights I’m sure. If you had been a bitcoin investor at the start of 2017 you would be rich by now (unless you were the person who dumped his computer hardrive in a landfill site a few years ago still containing bitcoin which now would be worth millions – so much for crypto currencies!).
Another year older and wiser often brings health and family issues which we couldn’t imagine in a soap opera. But there are happy things too and finding love for the first, second or third time is always special.
In the face of so much uncertainty what is it that gives us real perspective on life and strength to face the future?
For me, it is God who provides that stability and strength to take the knock backs that life brings and stand tall with confidence to face the next challenge. My favourite promise in the whole bible is this “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Over the centuries many people have found that promise to be true in their lives and that as they put their hands “into the Hand of God it was better than light and safer than any known way.”
With best wishes for a very happy new year,
(a less than perfect Christian on a journey into the new year)
Just a fairy story?
By the time you read this the Christmas celebrations will be well underway and the busyness of this time of year will be driving on. And while we may all have differing opinions on whether the commercial bits of Christmas really do a lot of good there will also be the scepticism of many people on whether Jesus really has a lot of relevance today.
Many people discount Jesus as a part of history we can no longer be certain about because it was so long ago….and the records suggest the accounts of him (in the Bible) are contradictory and unbelievable. Those sceptics don’t always recognise that other people also talked and wrote about Jesus at the time and that the Bible is remarkably consistent in its account of Jesus’ life. One of the independent testimonies was a prolific Roman historian, Josephus, who despite not having any obvious faith of his own wrote about Jesus in these terms:-
“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared. “
Flavius Josephus….Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18
Many centuries on from Josephus, “the tribe of Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.” Still today many people find for the first time (and some for the second time and so on) that Jesus is true to His word and a source of huge hope and comfort in finding a way through life. The message of “O little town of Bethlehem” still holds true for those who reach out to Him:-
“How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is given;
so God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him, still
the dear Christ enters in.”
Best wishes for a very happy Christmas,
Julian Foster (a less than perfect Christian on a journey)