We are in the church’s season of Epiphany (which means “a sudden insight, or understanding”)
and this is the time when we reflect upon how we have been touched by the presence of God - through the human manifestation in Jesus Christ, just as the Magi, or wise men, were, thousands of years ago.
The reading from Deuteronomy told us that the Lord, YHWH, would raise up prophets and as we look through the various books of the Old Testament, we see that the prophets were, almost exclusively, people without office, not of high rank, not high priests, not judges.
They were generally farmers, or other manual labourers, until the Spirit of the Lord came upon them.
And then they were able to speak with authority - and the people listened.
There are actually two kinds of authority.
There's the authority that comes with an office – e.g. a judge, or Prime Minister, or priest, has authority through the law - or by the office they hold and their ability to influence, to increase, to cause something to happen.
But there's another kind of authority - and that's an innate, inner type of authority.
Jesus spoke with this kind of authority.When he came to the synagogue at Capernaum, it was clear that there were those present who had been appointed to positions of religious authority and civil power.
But Jesus came into the synagogue and began to teach “as one having authority” and the people were amazed, because his teaching seemed, somehow, different.
It had authority, but not because of his position, because he had none and he wasn’t a member of the Sanhedrin.
He wasn’t a judge or a priest and yet he spoke as one who knew the truth.
Jesus surprised people with his note of authority.
When he spoke, people found something powerful happening in their lives.
When Jesus spoke, people said, "Ah-hah...yes, that's true, that's true about me."
Often, in the scriptures, Jesus would speak to a person and they would respond,
"How did you know that about me?"
When Jesus saw a person, he really looked inside to the inner person.
He was aware of who they were.
He seemed to know them better than they knew themselves.
Yes, Jesus had this amazing authority, but it wasn’t because of any office that he held, or any educational degrees that he'd been given. He had a unique authority, as the son of the creator of the universe.
Even the unclean spirit recognised this authority – it was just scared that it’d be changed if it listened to Jesus too much.
Of course, it did become changed, as the authority of Jesus healed the man and he was whole again.
As people of faith, for two thousand years we’ve come to understand that this authority in the person Jesus is uniquely powerful, because it’s intertwined with God.
Paul said, "God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to himself."
Even the centurion who stood guard at the time of the crucifixion, who had probably never seen or heard Jesus before, was so filled with awe and wonder at this man as he died, said, "Truly, this was a godly man."
And Thomas, who like most of us, couldn’t really believe until he had strong evidence, when he was able to touch the manifestation of God's presence, he said, "My Lord and my God."
Jesus spoke with authority and, as believers, we see that authority rooted in his relationship with God, the Creator.
We are, in Jesus, touched by the divine.
So how do we relate this understanding of Jesus, as speaking with authority, to our daily lives?
Because each of us also has some innate authority. We all have influence - on family, friends and neighbours, work colleagues, etc.
So what authorities influence us?
We know that some authorities are givens.
We live under the authority of the constitution and the laws of this nation.
Various authorities influence and impact our lives.
But many of the authorities, under which we live, are chosen.
I have chosen to be married
- so I live under the vows of marriage.
I have chosen to be baptised
- so I live under the covenant of the baptism.
Some of us may even give up our lives to the authority of addiction.
An addiction, whether it's to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, or whatever, is when we allow that substance to have great authority and influence over our lives.
So today, as we meditate on Jesus and the authority with which he spoke, let's ask ourselves,
"What authorities rule my life?"
Is it money?
Is it family?
Is it my job, my boss, my friends?
In fact, a good discipline for each of us, is to write on a sheet of paper the various authorities and the various influences they have on our lives, and then try to put them in some sort of priority.
What's the highest authority?
Most of us would not like to admit it, but money will be very, very high on most lists, probably higher than we’d like to admit.
As has often been said in recent political campaigns, "The economy is all powerful."
Money is a powerful authority in the lives of all Australians.
If money is above our families, then that should make us very uncomfortable.
So, I encourage you to look at that list and ask yourself “How do we need to change it?”
What’s on that list that makes us uncomfortable?
And then we should ask ourselves, "How do I use my authority with others?
How do I use my authority with my family, in my workplace, in my neighbourhood?
Do I use my influence to control people, to frighten people?
Or do I use it to raise up people when they're lost or weak?
Do I use my authority to support and affirm other people?"
And also, what does it mean for me to accept Jesus as the primary authority in my life?
Not just to attend church once a week, but to give our lives wholly to his authority, resisting all others.
Millions of peoples, over thousands of years, have found their lives radically changed for the good, by accepting Jesus Christ as their primary authority.
What if someone were to ask you the question, "I'd like to have Jesus as my primary authority, but how do I make that happen?"
Firstly, they’d have to make a decision - to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour.
That's a very deeply personal decision and one they may well need to make a number of times during their lives.
Secondly, become an active member of a Christian community, that is, a church.
The spiritual journey is more than just God and one person.
At baptism, Christians promise to support each another.
We’re a people in communion with God and with one another.
Notice, in today's scripture reading, that Jesus was not just teaching one-on-one, but to a group of people, gathered in the synagogue - gathered in community.
We offer ourselves, our souls, to God.
This is who we are.
Today's Gospel shows us Jesus teaching people who were gathered together.
The decision to accept Jesus as the primary authority in our lives is an individual decision, but the spiritual journey to make that authority real, is a community journey.
I therefore urge you, as we meditate on this powerful reading from the Gospel of Mark, to ask yourselves the question about authority and how incredibly important God’s authority is in our everyday lives.
Ask yourselves “How do I use the authority that I have?”
You know, we all have much more authority than we believe.
Many of us are prone to say, "Oh, I don't have any influence. I don't have any authority."
Yes, you do. You have major authority upon the people you live with, your neighbours, your family, your friends, your fellow workers, the people you know and meet on the street.
Even today, our appointed leaders still get threatened by the teaching of Jesus, which can turn upside down all our ideas of who is important and valuable.
Jesus shows us that the seemingly least important are valued by God as much as the person in highest authority.
He shows us that the greatest leader is the servant of all, not the one with the highest position or most titles.
He shows us that the greatest force in the world is not the greatest army, but love.
We believe that God has touched us through the person of Jesus Christ, made us aware of the divine presence.
I encourage you to meditate, now, and often, on how you accept that divine word and how it is going to affect your daily action.
Then make a plan of how you will use your own personal authority, given to you by God, to influence others to listen to his word, too.
Reflection: "Let's Go Fishing"
In a recent report on contemporary family life, a somewhat exasperated young father described parenthood as “always filled with joy, but sometimes not much fun.”
Many parents could probably relate to his words.
And it doesn’t just apply to modern parenting, either.
For being father, or mother, with all its wonder and joys, is not easy in any era.
Good parenting invariably entails a great deal of giving and self-sacrifice – which as we all know is “sometimes not much fun.”
That father’s offhand comment seems somehow appropriate as we reflect on today’s gospel account of the calling of the disciples – particularly James and John, the sons of Zebedee.
Mark’s gospel tells us that they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
What must Zebedee have thought as he saw his otherwise perfectly sensible sons suddenly get up and leave their nets and their chores?
And to do what?
To follow a little-known itinerant preacher no less.
Not much fun in that for Zebedee, one supposes, as the hired men probably stared open-jawed in amazement at this little family drama unfolding before their very eyes.
Apparently, parenthood, and family life, was no simpler 2,000 years ago than it is nowadays.
By the way, commercial fishing was – back then and is still today in many places – a family business in which each member of the household has his or her important role. It’s fair to say that fishing for a living is a lot of hard work and is not always fun.
While a family-run fishing business might not have been the most glamorous profession in ancient Israel, nor have put one into the highest echelons of Hebrew society, it was nevertheless a respected profession and a solid means of income to support one’s family.
It was, in fact, more highly regarded – according to some scholars and experts – than the work of a lowly village carpenter, as might be levelled at Joseph, the father of Jesus, and even Jesus himself. So, to follow Jesus – as admirable as that may seem from our advantaged perspective 2,000 years later – also meant for James and John, the giving up of a not-insignificant trade or profession.
As they say, people will always need to eat.
The troubling conclusion also seems almost unavoidable: Following Jesus might well mean leaving parents and family and the security and comfort of a good job or career.
By the way, how was Zebedee supposed to manage without the assistance and support of his sons, we simply don’t know from the gospel account.
“Follow me, indeed!", he was probably thinking.
But “Follow me” is precisely what Jesus says to that other pair of brothers, Peter and Andrew, also fishermen at the Sea of Galilee.
His call to James and John must certainly have sounded a similar note.
Even now, there are probably few words in all of Christian scripture more demanding than these: Follow me, we’re going fishing.
Jesus gives no explanation for his challenge.
Nor does he give his followers or recruits a clear 7 point business plan for his new start-up ministry.
He makes no promise of success or riches either. His vision statement – if you can call it that from a present-day corporate perspective – is only that his disciples will come to “fish for people.”
And can there be much of a future in that?
The disciples obviously must have thought so, because, curiously, they’re not portrayed as having agonized over their decision to drop everything and follow the Lord.
They didn’t first go home and sleep on it, or discuss it at length with family members, friends or village elders. They didn’t check their bank accounts or savings.
And surely, if they had approached their local rabbi for advice, they would most assuredly have been sent back to Zebedee to continue the family business.
Still, there’s something truly energizing and exciting in the response - or impulse really, because it hardly seems to have been a decision at all – of these first disciples.
Perhaps, in leaving their home, they comprehended at once the larger family of humankind to which Jesus was calling them. To “fish for people” is, after all, about community – and family.
And, though not always fun, as the disciples were themselves later to discover, it’s most definitely about joy – the joy of bringing the Father’s love to others sorely in need of the Good News of the gospel.
Most of us have, no doubt, from time to time dreamed of dropping everything and heading off on some personal journey of discovery – until we sit back and calculate the cost, come down to earth and get back to reality.
Probably there would be very few of us today who would leave our nets, much less our Internet, to follow in the footsteps of James and John, Peter and Andrew – or Jesus himself. Yet our Lord’s challenge to the disciples of so long ago remains there to test us still today – just those two words: “Follow me.”
The fact that we know from the perspective of faith, just who Jesus is and what he calls us to do, seems to make little difference. In some sense, our challenge and task is perhaps even greater than that of those impulsive young followers of Jesus.
For most of us are called to follow our Lord at the very same time that we’re challenged to remain where we are – at the side of family and friends.
Yet, perhaps paradoxically, accepting our Lord’s gospel imperative, invariably leads us to fish for other people, even if we never actually pull up stakes and leave home.
What the early disciples must have instinctively known is something we must not forget – that in following Jesus we might leave everything, but we lose nothing.
That’s the good news of God that Jesus and his disciples proclaimed with great joy throughout Galilee – and we can also do across our world today.
And probably even the disciples’ own father, Zebedee, could find joy in that.
A while ago, my brother (a minister in Melbourne), put me on to a book called Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf.
Robert was an unlikely figure – a senior manager in AT&T (a bit like our Telstra) - who also sat on educational boards.
But out of these experiences came a deep suspicion of authoritarian leaders.
He said a real leader must be a servant first, seeking to serve the highest priority needs of others.
He advised “Never follow a leader who is not a servant first.” Greenleaf’s servant leadership sounded to me just like the leadership of Jesus all those years ago.
He didn’t say to the disciples “Go.”
He said “Follow.”
I realised after reading this book, why I wanted to follow Jesus.
And from the time I began to know who he really was; someone who gave his life to serve each one of us and yet gave leadership that was stronger than anything the world had seen, I knew that this was the life for me.
That probably explained why there has been a deep conviction in me that Jesus is the one I want to follow.
He was the most deeply human person the world has ever seen and it’s in that humanity we can see the living God.
Jesus was not really the gentle, meek and mild person he’s sometimes portrayed as, but was, in fact, a strong servant leader, who stood up to the forces of this world.
He asked the fishermen to leave their nets and become fishers of men.
Now he calls each one of us, today, to follow him in the greatest adventure the world has known.
Are you ready to go fishing with Jesus?
Reflection: "Following Jesus"
We aren’t given many details about Philip in any of the Gospels, but John does tell us about his calling by Jesus.
He also tells us that Philip responded in faith and followed Jesus.
The very first thing Philip did after that was to find his friend Nathaniel to tell him, “We’ve found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote.”
This is often the way the gospel spreads – one person commends it to another, face to face, in the context of a personal relationship.
Nathaniel was passionate about Israel and their deep longing for meaning and worth, which came from their national identity as the people of God.
Like many good Israelites, he longed for God to redeem Israel. He longed for the messiah to come and lead Israel into a new era of international prominence.
Like many Israelites, he bound up his sense of purpose and worth with his people.
Yet he was still a disappointed man.
The Maccabean revolt, a century and a half before, had failed to establish Israel’s prominence.
Prophets and preachers wandered throughout Israel proclaiming that the messiah was coming, yet Israel was still in Roman chains.
Nathaniel was a cynical and jaded man.His attitude was “I’ve heard all the claims, now let’s see some action.”
Philip persevered and invited Nathaniel to “Come and see.
Come and see the Christ and encounter him for yourself.
You’ll get the answers you really want.”
Now we shift scenes to the encounter between Christ and Nathaniel.Jesus saw Nathaniel and said two things.
First, he called Nathaniel a true Israelite, in whom there was no guile.
Second, he told Nathaniel that he had seen him sitting under the fig tree.
The “true Israelite” image works on a couple of levels.
On the surface, Jesus was simply saying, “You are faithful.”
On another level, this statement was a play on words referring to their patriarch Jacob.
Jacob was a man in whom there was lots of guile, lots of falsehood.If you go back to Genesis and read his story – you’ll see that he was a trickster until he wrestled with God.
Then his perspective changed, he turned his life around and God named him Israel.
So, there was subtleness when Jesus called Nathaniel a true Israelite in whom there was no guile.
The fig tree, on the other hand, was a place of rest and comfort.
The ancient prophets used the image of the fig tree to convey a picture of God’s end-time kingdom.
In Zechariah 3:10, after describing how God would remove the sin of the high priest and the land, the prophet wrote,
“In that day, each of you will invite his neighbour to sit under his vine and fig tree, declares the Lord Almighty.”
Jesus used these literary images to convey his understanding of Nathaniel’s deep identification with Israel and his longing for deliverance.
In effect, Jesus was saying to Nathaniel,
“I know what’s on your heart.
I know you’ve been praying for the messiah.
I know you want God’s kingdom to be restored.”
We don’t know exactly what Nathaniel expected, but Jesus greeted Nathaniel by speaking directly to what was most on Nathanial’s heart.
Jesus immediately got past the cynicism to encounter the core issue for Nathaniel.
Jesus didn’t play games, instead penetrating the yearning that Nathaniel felt most.
And Nathaniel responded with simple faith and joy.
He told Christ, “You are the Son of God, the King of Israel.”
His quick switch from cynicism to earnestness indicates the depth to which Christ had touched him.
This is an example of the kind of disarming encounter we can expect from a meeting with Jesus Christ.
Jesus gets past our defences to speak to our longings.
He reminds us that we were designed and created with dignity.
We’ve been given talents and abilities that can be used for a purpose.
Our daily labours have more significance than just the grind of earning a wage.
Our physical bodies and relationships mean more than mere gratification.
As God’s people, we’re cherished, loved, adored and doted on.
As smart as we may think we are - we really don’t have all the answers and we can quickly get in over our heads theologically.
All we can then do is point that person to the one who has all the answers – Jesus.
Isaiah 55:11 says:
“So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”
Jesus gets past our walls and defences to touch us where and when we most need it.
Now look what Christ promised in today’s reading from John 1, verses 50 & 51.
This statement was guaranteed to blow Nathaniel’s mind because it spoke to his heart yearning, but in a way that far exceeded expectation.
Christ didn’t promise to restore Israel – he promised to open up heaven and show the inner workings of creation.
He didn’t take for himself the title “King of Israel,” but instead called himself “Son of Man.”
Jesus was saying “I’m a bigger king than you ever expected.”
Who else could speak to our deepest yearnings but the one who was present at the beginning of creation and who crafted those very yearnings within us?
Christ knows those yearnings even better than we do. As we walk with him, and grow deeper and wiser in faith, he’ll teach us.
He’ll reveal to us understanding about the yearnings he’s placed within us, and about the corruption that sin works on those yearnings.
Christ will be a king of a totally different sort.
The Gospel (good news) is for cynics – like us.
And sometimes it’s hard for us to recognise God’s calling for us.
Like Samuel, we might think it’s someone else, like Eli.
But God doesn’t give up on us that easily.
He keeps calling. Jesus offers his life to us and it’s up to us to receive that gift with gratitude, change our lives and follow him.
Are you ready to follow?
My prayer is that you’ll search your heart and ask Jesus to come into your life.
Reflection: "New Beginnings"
Happy New Year.
That’s a nice greeting, don’t you think?
It conjures up prospects of things going well for the year that is to come.
When we think of things starting, I guess we need to look right back to the start of our biblical narrative,
in Genesis Chapter 1, where it starts: “In the beginning…..”
So, where did you begin?
Where did your story - the story of you - begin?
I guess it started with a birth story, at the time when your mother went into labour and presented a great gift to the world – you!But actually, you begin farther back in history.
You could even be part of a great and noble race, a shoot from some distinguished family tree.
Perhaps the part of you that most defines you, came from an ancestor's participation in one of history's great migrations: the crossing of an ocean, walking over the land bridge that existed between PNG and Australia, taking a ten-pound boat-ride from old blighty, or on a jet plane to Kinsgford Smith airport? Beginnings - whatever they are - are important.
They tell us who we are, and they often define where we are going in this life.
The Bible has a story about the beginning and some of us know it by heart.
It goes a little like this: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
What a scene!
God sets down in the midst of a formless darkness and from this face-to-face encounter, a sensible world begins.
God makes order from chaos.
A Divine Creator who stares down at nothing and works on it until there is something beautiful! It's the most important kind of beginning, a story that shows how a caring God can work.
Because when the world feels like chaos, when we find ourselves trapped in grief or despair, when God seems to us to be nowhere...in that time when we’re desperate for a new beginning, we have this story of a beginning.
We have a Creating God who reshapes the chaos into order, even into beauty.
Beginnings happen all the time.
Let’s look at just one that you might have heard about.
At a Christmas Day lunch in Victoria in 1949, the Rev Frank Byatt placed a simple, empty bowl on the table before him, asking those around the table to contribute what they felt the cost of the meal had been.
He suggested that they consider their own good fortune in being able to share a Christmas meal together.
He also invited them to share God’s blessings of love and friendship in the form of a gift to help people who had fled the horrors of World War Two and were suffering as refugees.
The Christmas Bowl Appeal, as we now know it, was then launched in 1950 as the main fund-raiser for Inter-Church Aid and was organized in Australia by the Australian Council for the World Council of Churches.
In over 60 years, this event has spread world-wide and many thousands of churches have promoted the concept amongst their congregations.
I believe that one of the mistakes many Christians make when they read the Bible, is that they think that the Bible only has one beginning.
In fact, it's a book that has dozens of beginnings, maybe hundreds - and many of them echo this same theme.
God creates order out of chaos.
That's not a bad way to think about the significance of John the Baptist, who appeared in the wilderness demanding that people rise up to take responsibility for their lives and for the state of the world.
John didn't show up in a world where everything was going fine.
It was a world scarred and disfigured by the oppression of the many by the few, by state-sponsored violence, by greed, by the exploitation by the powerful of the powerless.
John showed up there, standing in the waters of the River Jordan berating people – asking them to see the problems around them and telling them to make a change.
To repent and change their lives to a new way.
And then we read that Jesus wades into the river, next to John.
It was like creation happening all over again.
John baptised Jesus and a heavenly voice broke the silence: "This my son, with whom I am well pleased."
And, just as before, there was a light in the darkness.
As it was in the beginning, here was God in the world, wresting order from chaos.
This time, it was by proclaiming good news to the poor and releasing every captive.
God was in the world to speak peace to the world's strongest army, to feed the hungry as others hoarded their excess, to restore dignity to all in a world that afforded dignity to some and stripped it from others, to forgive us our sins and free us for love.
So, we see that there's not just one beginning in the Bible; there are actually many of them, but they all contain echoes of the same theme:
When the earth was a formless void, God ordered the chaos and made a good creation.
When injustice reigned in human life, God sent Jesus to earth, to reorder lives from the inside out.
When the earth was dark and its Saviour had been laid in a tomb, he rose again from the dead on the third day to show once and for all time, that there is no disorder that the love of God cannot put right, there is no chaos that God's love cannot turn into something beautiful.
Today, at the beginning of this new year, many of us will refresh ourselves with the promises made in our own baptisms.
Others might just wish for new beginnings in their lives and make resolutions as to how they propose to go about achieving those changes.
We need to remember that every new day is a new beginning and that, whatever has happened in the past,
God is willing to forgive us and we can make a fresh start.
As we move forward, I want you to consider all of your beginnings.
When did the Spirit of God hover over the chaos of your life, calling you by your name, and delivering you into a good and blessed place?
I hope that I’ve convinced you that beginnings do matter.
They tell us who we are - and whose we are.
They tell us where we’re going - and even who we’ll meet when we reach the end.
As it was way back in the beginning, it still is and it will be forever more, a world without end. Amen.
Reflection: Happy New Year
It feels good to write the numbers “2021” in the date line at the top of this reflection.
Christmas is behind us and we’re looking forward to this new year, hoping that it will be nothing like the last year.
Some words from a currently popular song remind us:
“And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows.”
Another saying by Winston S. Churchill states: “If you’re going through hell – keep going!”
Our fervent prayer is that the year 2021 turns out to be better than the tough year we’ve just endured.
Maybe many of us thought that the final three quarters of 2020 felt like hell, but we’re still here and it doesn’t feel as bad now as it did in March/April – and in many of the months following them.
In our Gospel Reading this week, the apostle John tells us that Jesus (the Word of God, made flesh) came into the world to shine his light and overcome our darkness.
John's gospel begins where it should - in the beginning.
This chapter is John’s version of the nativity story.
He doesn’t regale us with angels, shepherds, or a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Instead, he takes us right back to the beginning of the creation of the world:
“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.”
He continues on by telling us that this “word” (Jesus), which had come into being, was the life and light of all peoples and it shone into the darkness and overcame it.
We may feel like we’ve been wallowing about in darkness this past year, but John reassures us that Christ has been with us though all of our trials and tribulations.
He was there in the beginning, is here now and will be with us forever more.
God gives us his “word” (promise) that he will never leave us alone.
As we start another year, I’d like to challenge you afresh to take a good long look at Jesus - by reading the book of John - one chapter a day (it’ll take 3 weeks) and see what God reveals to you in the words.
I see Christmas as a signpost, drawing our attention - not to itself, but to what it is pointing at.
We see signposts every day.
Whether we’re walking about in a lovely bush setting, or out on a major highway, the signposts are there, assisting us to find our way.
We can get so used to the “event” of Christmas, that when we focus on the preparations, it’s easy to become so busy that we forget to focus on what God is longing to point us to – the idea that, wrapped up in this baby Jesus, is his son who will grow into the man who’ll be recognised as the saviour of the world.
In addition, he’s wanting us to embrace his light and love, thereby helping us to find our part in what he is doing in the world.
The Lectionary readings for this week point us to the certainty of God.
The prophet Jeremiah reassures the scatted remnants of Israel that their God will bring them all back to the land where they could “walk by brooks of water”.
In a similar way, the psalmist talks of God strengthening the city of Jerusalem against their enemies and blessing the children within.
When writing to the new Christians in the city of Ephesus, the apostle Paul tells them that, by believing in Christ, they will be “marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit” and that they are to be redeemed as God’s own people.
This New Year is a great time to affirm that certainty, yet we’re so often uncertain of what’s ahead.
We wonder: where is God in the events of our lives and in the world?
Our journey through life causes us to live in the conflicts of certainty, uncertainty and mystery, yet it’s our faith that helps us to get through.
As we get further into the New Year, I pray that our faith will grow and that we’ll move forward in the certainty of the knowledge that God has a plan for each of us.
Our task is to talk to him regularly (in prayer) and try to determine just what our role in his kingdom is.
If we don’t ask him what it is that we’re supposed to be doing, it’ll be hard for him to get us moving in the right direction.If all that sounds a bit complicated, it isn’t meant to.
Just try slowing yourself down, quieten the external noises of the world and spend regular quiet times in prayer, asking God to help you understand the role he has in mind for you.
The answers might surprise you, but I encourage you, whatever stage of life you find yourself in, to embrace the task wholeheartedly and serve him with joy.God the Creator, who brought the earth and the universe into being and, seeing that it was good, continues to create.
The creator remains active, always seeking the best for all people, desiring that we may truly live full and fruitful lives.
Sometimes it can be hard for us to see the good in disasters like drought, savage bushfires and viral pandemics, but the earth and God’s people usually manage to bounce back from these sorts of trials.
Human spirit, community bonding and the care of those who are less fortunate than ourselves, shines through in testing times like these, helping to bring us closer together, in ways that we hadn’t imagined. No one wants these events to occur, but maybe we need a shock to the system occasionally, to remind us that we need to look after the planet and those who inhabit it.
I pray that we may all play our part in God’s creation, continually giving thanks for his love and care for us.
“Go into this new year with joy and wonder,
shining the light and life of Christ in the world.
May God give you courage, wisdom and hope,
that you may live with boldness,
serve with kindness
and find joy in unexpected places.