Happy New Year... May God bless you and keep you during 2018...
I think I've mentioned before that I trie to spend some time over the New Year period reflecting on the year that's ending and considering my hopes and aspirations for the year ahead. This year has been no different and in the process of doing this I've realised that actually what God is doing and saying doesn't radically change from year to year, but simply builds on the same framework each year!
It always revolves around 3 key areas that never change: worship/prayer, discipleship and mission. All three are important and interdependent. They basically involve looking upwards, inwards and outwards.
Recently I've been receiving snippets from a book which encourages us to find a word for the year and then run with that single word for the whole year, making it a focus. I don't feel the need to buy the book because I've received so many snippets from different sources that I think I can put together the overall message it conveys!
I'm not even sure I agree with the principle of the book, as it may make us too blinkered if taken to the extreme. It may also be that because I've so many words that I want to explore that simply picking one restricts me too much! I even did a quiz that was to give you your word for the year, which in my case came out as 'simplify' but that was because of the way the questions were phrased about what was going on in your life. I would like to say that 'simplify' was the word for last year not this! I want to move on from there.
If I have to pick a word then I think I'll go with 'transform' as this has been a key word during my time of pondering and dreaming. Looking back on last year I can see how God has been transforming things. Then looking ahead into this year I long to see God transforming my life and the life of the church. I prefer the word 'transform' to the word 'change' because for me it has much more positive connotations. If you watch all the make-over programmes on TV then it's about improving things for the better, restoring run down things to give them a new lease of life or to make them look better.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)
This is a passage of Scripture that has been significant for me for many years. It is at the crossroads of the letter that Paul wrote to the believers in Rome. The previous 11 chapters comprehensively set out doctrine and theology - what we believe. All that follows is about hgow we live out our faith in the practicalities of life - the application of our theology. It is as we allow God's Holy Spirit to continue to transform us that we become more like Jesus and we recognise God being at work and what he wants us to do as part of his transformation process.
So, what are the things you want to see God transforming - in your life, in the lives of your loved ones, in the life of the church here in Swanwick, in the world in which we live? Now you don't have to tell me, but you would wise to start talking to God about these things. Prayer is the starting point, but don't forget to listen as you pray, as it is a conversation, not a monologue. Youmay be surprised to discover that what you want is also what God wants or maybe he wants something even better.!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Let's join with God in making a difference in our little bit of the world. May 2018 be a year when we are blessed by God and used by God to bless Swanwick and all that we encounter.