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Thought 41 - January 10th 2021

So we find ourselves in another Lock down and I am in many ways quite glad this is happening. With the frightening speed of the spread of the virus then the more precautions we can take, the better. I have to admit when I heard from our Superintendent Minister that he was recommending that our churches should close for worship I was upset. Having thought and prayed about the situation, I have to say he made the right decision and I was glad that we all went along with it. It is interesting that in this Lock down the Government is allowing religious worship to take place and this wasn't the case in previous Lock downs.

My only concern in all these measures is for those people who will be so lonely and isolated, it must be very difficult for them. The same is true of cancellation of worship, whilst we all can see the importance of keeping safe, we must never forget those whose loneliness and anxiety will be heightened in these times of restriction.

It is not the best start to a New Year, when I guess many of us, some months ago had felt that we would, by now, be on the road to recovery.

On Wednesday we remembered the start of the season of Epiphany. The word means to reveal, and our set readings over the next few weeks will help us to learn more about Jesus as we renew our commitment to serving him in our lives. At this time of year we do have our Covenant service, again a chance to consider our calling as Christians to renew those promises to discipleship.

On the day of Epiphany many churches have a service when the figures of the Wise Men are brought to the front of the church and placed in the stable. In the story, those important people are told to follow a star to Bethlehem. In the midst of the darkness they had a star to follow, and in their gifts they showed they recognised the infant Jesus as a King, (gold) as the Son of God (incense) and as one who would suffer and die (myrrh) In the horror of the reign of an evil King, who wanted to bring so much terror, those Wise Men had seen Jesus as the way ahead in the midst of the darkness.

In our difficult times, maybe we look to that reading in Matthew ch 2 v 1-12 and reflect on its message of hope and light and the reassurance of Jesus as the Son of God, who would do great things and teach wonderful messages of hope. Most important as the gift of myrrh reminds us, Jesus would suffer and die to show his amazing love for each one of us.

I feel I need lots of reassurance from my faith at the moment, as I feel, at times, quite helpless and lacking in hope. It is when I turn to prayer and to the Bible I see there is hope. Many people I have spoken to in these difficult times have shared the real hope they have found in Psalm 139. I have read it again and I commend it to you, as it gives such a sure faith in God who knows us and loves us.

So here we are in 2021, and there is the hope of the Vaccine, some of you may have already have had it. There is hope that maybe as we journey through this year things will start to get better. All we can do is to believe in a loving God and be honest with ourselves and with God, who knows us so well and who hears our prayers and understands our worry. He showed that love in his Son Jesus, who tells us do not worry!! trust in him.

So the hymn I have chosen is 'Wise men seeking Jesus' H&P 128 . I feel the words of v7 are so reassuring; 'He is more than near us, if we love him well, for he seeketh ever in our hearts to dwell' I feel all the verses are about Jesus' presence in our lives expressed in simple poetic language. Sadly it isn't in STF!

So, stay safe and keep praying

Dave Elliott

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