January 2021: From Our Minister’s Christmas Tree
Well the old tree may be recycled by the time you see this, and I missed the tree arriving this year. I was still isolating when it came from the farm but each year when it comes I look upon it and think of the events since the last one arrived. I then wonder what will have happened by its next resurrection in the sitting room. It’s a marker of time, a tradition. It’s usually a marker that life has been good. The individual spruce doesn’t of course determined what’ s coming. Its just a moment for taking stock after heaving half a ton of decorations from the loft (I missed that too in a presence sense).
I have alluded to feelings about last year already and you don’t need me to declare 2020 can be best described as a ‘complete turkey’. Even I didn’t think I could lead a service of thanks giving for the closing year this time round. But when it came to writing Pray Nine Three O this month (our prayer diary) I hit on the idea of using ‘Lord for the years’ which we will use at the Covenant Service (if church is not in lockdown). While going through the verses not everything chimed with events or hopes but a number of things did resonate.
God’s leading, our need to forgive and repent, a more inclusive view for young and old, service and sacrifice. I found that in the midst of fear and confusion good things had come about. Care for elderly people was seen to have great dedication in homes throughout the UK. The fact that our older members of society are being vaccinated first shows a real change in thinking. Young people’s future seemed to command greater interest in the corridors of power and in the country. The fact that politicians and drug manufactures are thinking seriously of affordable vaccination for the poorest countries show that some how out of all the horrors something good has come. A bigger sense of caring has been made real; there are gaps but there has been a lot of commendable work
The hymn also speaks for us. We may have felt we were all hiding under rocks but God has been with us through these difficult times. You will know if you decided on radio silence with the Lord rather than conversation, pleading and even listening. You may have wondered about the point of faith. The fact that even corporate worship closed for months perhaps gave rise to the thought God has tired of us. I found it hard knowing that so many people were alone during the pandemic, but the Pastoral Visitors and phone calls provided connection and humour to many. I found it hard seeing the churches closed, knowing why it had to be but wondering what effect it would have on the future of religion. I found words from the hymn most helpful as we venture into a new year with the wreckage of the old year still in tow.
Verse five of Lord for the years says:
‘Lord for ourselves; in living power remake us -
self on the cross and Christ upon the throne,
past put behind us, for the future take us:
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ’.
Putting it gently, if you are still here, Christ has plans for you and me, Lord remake us in your service and for your Kingdom. Take us forward to serve our community and to pray for it
Thank goodness when we did the Covenant Service last year we had no idea what it meant when we said ‘put me to what you will’