Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:4)
In the words of Deacon John Aitchison who has been a prophetic voice throughout this year.
“The year is over – the baggage remains:
This is normally the time when we cheerfully consign the year gone past to the scrapyard of history and, eternally optimistic, look forward to a better one ahead. I fear no such luck this year end. In [the parish of St John the Divine] we usually had a New Year’s Eve service in which we wrote down a list of our failures and disappointments of the year on scraps of paper which were then ceremonially burned outside our west door. Can’t do it this year at church – we are under lockdown and curfew. No, we are going to have to carry over a lot of unfinished business. The baggage of 2020 will be with us for a long time.”
I continually look to a group of people to whom we are greatly indebted for our religion and our faith in God. For four hundred years they were in lockdown, slaves to a merciless Egyptian Pharaoh. They had no Tabernacle, no Temple, no Bible, no Priests, no corporate worship to speak of, but they had a sense of unity in their faith that God would deliver them. They waited expectantly and never gave up, they complained a lot, they groaned, they expressed their misery, for the Bible says that “God had heard their groaning ( Exodus 2:23,24), but they never stopped hoping, they never stopped believing that God was for them not against them, ( Romans 8:31) despite their circumstances. As Christians we need to acknowledge that being “in Christ” does not make us superior to our forefathers in the faith. We will endure the same story as those who have gone before us, in the same hope, although we have a clearer revelation of that hope, will we cling to it as much as the people of Goshen did? Joseph had delivered the nations from starvation and given them new life in the world. They prospered in Goshen but then the worldly Egyptians became jealous of them and so enslaved them. I hope you can see that the Exodus story is a story of the pattern of life and we need to live with confidence in our God, who delivers us from the tyranny of sin. The Prophet Jeremiah clearly reminds us that we will live in trying times, but that God will deliver us. The Book of Isaiah is all about God delivering us, through the Messiah.
This is a time for us to be bold and to be strong and to cling to the cross of Jesus. This is a time for us to strengthen our families and make worship a part of our daily lives. We are to be priests over our own households and be devout in our reading of scripture and in prayer.
The New Year does not provide us with new life. Jesus Christ does. Jesus provides us with a hope that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38 & 39)
We live under a promise, a promise that God will deliver us. The people of Goshen, though they waited 400 years, never gave up on that promise, and so we too can endure no matter how long it takes, we live in peace because we know that God is near, our God is with us and will not abandon us.
Therefore, be of good courage, fight the good fight of faith that you may finish your course with joy.
And the Blessing of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, be upon you now and forever.