The Minister's Letter

 

A year ago I suggested we begin the new year listening to God, to one another and to the world if we were to know where the New Year might take us.  I have to say that much of my listening is done looking back at what has happened to me and thinking, ‘Oh, that was you God!’  Some people keep diaries or journals, and I do too, although I won't be writing my memoirs from it.  For the last couple of years I have simply written down what I have done each day - visited a member, chaired a meeting, wrote a sermon.  On the first day of each month I read through the past month's entries, and as I scan each day I remember what happened at each event.  I am constantly surprised at how much better life has been than I remember.  I find myself saying, ‘Oh, that was you God!’  This is some of my listening as I try to learn from God and follow Jesus.  I have always thought that to understand where you are going to you need to see where you have come from.

Of course, not everything that happens to us is easy.  Over the past year our first granddaughter was born but also my mother died.  Surprisingly I have learned to see God in the bad as well as the good.  I believe I have grown as a person and as a Christian far more through difficulty than through ease.  Not that I necessarily saw it at the time, but looking back I can say ‘Oh, that was you God.’  I do not believe God sends difficulty upon us, but he is present amidst the hurt and the tears to lead us on.

At the start of each new year Methodists renew their Covenant with God.  We say ‘I am no longer my own but yours.  Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, exalted for you, or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing: I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours.  So be it.  And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.’

These are not easy words but I believe in them.  I believe that approaching the future requires faith, and that means trusting that God is in the ebb and flow of all that happens to us, wherever we are taken, and with whoever we meet.  Faith means to trust that in all things we are loved and we are held.  We can therefore enter the new year with hope, and at the end of it we will be able to say, ‘Oh, that was you God!’

Have a blessed New Year,

                 Nigel