Standing on the threshold

I think this is the first time since I became your minister that I am writing my letter for the January magazine after Christmas. I thought the services over the Christmas period at both Elmers End and Emmanuel went well and it was wonderful to welcome so many who do not come to church at other times of the year into our fellowship. I pray something of the true meaning of Christmas will have been taken away with them and remain with them for the coming year.

We are standing on the threshold of a new year and as we enter 2017 are we joyful or fearful? The fact that there is much uncertainty on the world scene cannot be ignored. War is still lingering in Syria (we pray the current ceasefire will hold), a new and “untried” president is entering the White House and no one can be sure how he will handle international or indeed domestic affairs. Nearer home Britain’s efforts to exit the European Union on the best terms are far from straightforward. Also the fact that the new US president elect is a “Global Warming sceptic” is not good news for the health of the planet. Only time will tell how things will pan out.

Leaving the realm of politics and international affairs aside each of us in our own lives and the lives of our loved ones may also be facing uncertainty as 2017 dawns. The author L P Hartley, the writer of the novel, “The Go Between” famously observes “The past is a foreign country – they do things differently there.” At least hindsight is an exact science but predicting the future is problematical.

Yet looking ahead is not entirely grasping in the dark. We do have a light to guide us going forward that is the light of faith in God’s unfailing love. At Christmas time we celebrated the coming of that love into our world in the shape of a tiny baby born in a stable. The apostle John in the first chapter of his gospel says concerning Jesus, “In him was life and that life was the light of humanity.” (John 1:4) When the future looks dark we must look to the light that shines from the stable in Bethlehem.

The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that

“Jesus Christ is the same,  yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

So we need not be anxious about what lies ahead if we walk in faith and in the light of Christ’s love. Jesus  himself promises,

“I will be with you always even to the end of time.” (Matthew 28:20).

So let us look to the coming year trusting that God’s eternal love will  uphold us regardless of what the future holds.

Marion joins with me in wishing you a Happy New Year.

Shalom,

Bill