As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will seek to post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.
Wednesday 27th May 2020
‘Ancient and contemporary’
The lockdown imposed by Covid19 has I think taught us two key lessons. The first lesson is a reminder of our individual place and role within the community. Nothing new here. For all of recorded history humans have lived and congregated together. The selfish individualism that has become common place in recent years has hopefully been dealt a fatal blow.
Now Covid 19 has reminded us that we need and depend on each other. Let’s hope the outbreak of neighbourliness witnessed right across the UK will not be forgotten. That we will continue to look out for each other. And the sense of purpose and satisfaction that comes from doing something positive and helpful will continue to enrich our lives and communities.
The second lesson Covid19 has taught us is the value of the internet. In a time of lockdown, Skype, FaceTime, Zoom and other apps, have kept people connected. It’s not as meaningful as face to face contact but it has revolutionised the way we communicate with each other. It has even helped the church to stay open. I never thought I would be preaching via a computer monitor. Whilst I yearn to be reconnected with friends, the internet has been a real blessing. It has helped us with our shopping, it has kept entertained and even kept us fit.
Within the Christian faith, there is always a tension between what is old and what is new. Today’s Bible passages provide a classic example of this. Isaiah tells that we are look back into history, for those ancient and authentic spiritual pathways that have been stood the test of time and have been faithfully handed down from generation to generation. These ancient spiritual pathways, earthed in the traditions and history of ancient Israel, rooted in the coming of the messiah Jesus Christ and forged over many centuries with countless generations. It is these paths that lead to an authentic encounter with God, to life in all its fullness and the salvation of the soul.
Having said that, following the ancient pathways of our faith does not mean that we stay in the past and live in the past. As human society changes and evolves, so our faith is always in need of continual renewal. The prophet Jeremiah challenges to be on the continual lookout for what God is doing and where He is taking us.
This was an important feature in the life of Jesus. He held past and present together, but never let the old get in the way of the new. And sometimes when we step out in faith and embrace the new, we reencounter the ancient truths of our faith. The poet Christian Wiman writes beautifully, “Faith itself sometimes needs to be stripped of its social and historical encrustations and returned to its first, churchless incarnation in the human heart.”
Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church
16 This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
Isaiah 43: 17-19
This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 18“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
Another day begins, Lord,
and with it the certainty of your presence
and the promise of Your faithfulness.
As sure as dawn follows darkness,
as sun follows moon,
as birdsong follows night’s silence,
You come again, bringing light and life,
breath and growth, energy and expectancy
into our lives.
We praise You that all around us
is the beauty of creation carved out of love.
We thank You that Your own feet touched this earth
and felt its power and its pain.
We rejoice that You move within us even before we speak Your name.
Lord God, You amaze us again and again with the depth of Your faithfulness and the vastness of Your mercy.
When we walk in barren places You guide us to where there is growth. When we lie thirsty in dry spaces
You offer us life -giving water. When we ache with hunger
You fill us with hope. When we scrabble in dark places
You take our hand and show us the way.
When we stumble and fall over our own pitiful obstacles
of disinterest, anger, ignorance, hurtfulness and pride,
You hear our mumbled sorry’s and lift our heads with a promise of a new beginning.
How good it is, Lord, to know You and to know Your forgiveness, to love You and to be loved by You,
to be called by You so that others may be called to You.
How good it is that you have declared Yourself
our once and for all God,
Whose story is our past, Whose work is our present,
Whose word is our future. Another day begins, Lord
and with it another chance to start afresh with You.
May we open our eyes to Your light.
May we hear Your voice above the noises of life.
May we be filled with anticipation
of what we can be with You by our side.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you.
Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.
You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.
I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.
You touched me, and I burned for your peace.
Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. You will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.
May God the Father prepare your journey,
Jesus the Son guide your footsteps,
The Spirit of Life strengthen your body,
The Three in One watch over you,
on every road that you may follow.