The Minister's Letter

 

The floods are starting to recede as I write, and coronavirus is beginning to rise in the UK.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a plague of frogs didn’t follow!  Of course, the medical situation may be much worse by the time you read this, or perhaps not as bad as we now fear.  So my levity may be just right, or it may be misplaced.  One of the difficulties of writing my piece here is I am always looking a month ahead, and I do not have a crystal ball.

The popular understanding of a prophet is one who foretells the future.  The Bible takes a dim view of crystal ball gazing.  The Old Testament Prophets were interpreters of their own times. It didn’t take a genius to make a political judgement based on the rise and fall of empires, and those whose judgement was wrong fell into obscurity.  The Bible tells us a little about them, enough to put them in their place, but mostly tells us about those whose interpretation was spot-on.  More importantly, they interpreted their times so people would know what to do and how to behave.  For some that meant abandoning false, jingoistic hope, and for others it meant finding hope where none was in sight.  The prophets told the people when to repent of social injustice, and when to rebuild the broken walls of the city.  In all of this, whatever history threw at people, the prophets reminded them of God’s covenant love, and their covenant duty.

How should we respond in these tumultuous times?  The climate, public health, politics, economics, and social care are all seemingly in chaos, and we do not know what tomorrow brings.  I can hear Corporal Jones crying ‘don’t panic!’  I am reminded of those posters and mugs which in recent years have carried the slogan ‘Keep calm and carry on.’  I don’t think a British stiff upper lip is going to do right now.  And we don’t know what tomorrow brings.  It may be just another day, or it may be the world turned upside down.

The prophets would tell us to keep calm and carry on, but with an important qualification.  We carry on because we belong to a covenant God of love.  We carry on because Jesus is Lord.  We carry on because God calls us to be faithful, obedient, generous and loving.  We don’t know what tomorrow brings, but when it comes will God find us ready for him? We are always in God’s hands, led by Jesus, empowered by the Spirit, come what may. God asks of us are we living as if this is true?

This is the way of Jesus. As he approached Jerusalem and the cross he could not see what lay beyond.  He lived obediently, faithfully and lovingly even as his road led towards the cross.  He calls us to take up our own cross and follow him. We may be uncertain of ourselves, but God our Father is certain, and with Jesus we pray ‘your will, not mine, be done.’

With every blessing,

Nigel

 

[Prepared and submitted for publication in early March]