During these past long and difficult days, concerned for our futures as individuals, families, businesses, communities, and nation, so many things are different from what we had hoped they’d be. We get easily annoyed by time lost. Bitter about what has and is happening to us, taken over by our worries and frustrations. The anxiety surrounding the continuous noise over Covid and leadership is as contagious as the virus itself. Something in our world is out of our control, and many don’t know where to turn, it’s left us broken or bruised. We can reflect on our situation and be reminded that we are never in total control of our lives, that we can never eliminate every misfortune, rather we can help one another unconditionally. If these days have taught us anything it is that we have come to a place where no-one can say to another, ‘I don’t need you!’
St Paul wrote to the Corinthians 12:12-31:
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church and community; every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance and celebration. You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.
As restrictions begin to ease again, if we pause for just a moment and be thankful for all the help we have received and can continue to give. For the blessings of new beginnings, of being able to go forward with a hug, of knowing that there is someone to turn to, of trusting that our daily needs will be met, of companionship and assurance, and the blessing of truth and compassion, upon everyone.
We are part of the Body of Christ at the heart of Kilmarnock reaching out to you with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope you find New Laigh Kirk a place where people are excited to attend, because it’s at church that great things can happen. Church is a place where God is worshipped and people are encouraged and informed, comforted and challenged. It is at church that we get a glimpse, a foretaste, a little piece of heaven on earth. I like the idea if you are looking forward to heaven, then you should also look forward to attending church, because church is the rehearsal for heaven. Psalm 84 describes it like this
How lovely is your dwelling-place,
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young –
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
The Psalmist, deep down inside at the very depths of his being, even his heart and his flesh cry out to be able to spend time with God. The Hebrew word for cry has the picture of a baby who cries out when it is hungry. I am sure you have all seen it. A baby cries with the whole body. Their hands clench into fists, their legs kick up and down and their face scrunches up. This is how we should cry out for God: with our whole being. The feeling being expressed is similar to when you are about to see a loved friend or family member that you have not seen or talked to for a long time. A bit like seeing friends for the first time more confident in meeting safely again.
It is astonishing to me as I look out on the landscape of our society and encounter the harshness of people’s lives. We are all affected because the call of God through Jesus is a call away from a divided, fragmented world and into the one family of God where all have a place and all are welcome. It is a call to share a way of life together that the world has said is not reasonable or desirable, and is irrelevant.
The challenge of the Gospel is to learn, in our homes, our families, our churches and our town, to confront graciously and to welcome with integrity and generous hospitality. We are called to sacrifice for others, to love and welcome others. And we are called to hold ourselves, our families, our companions to the standards of justice and peace of God’s reign.
Whilst there may be a celebratory feeling of returning to worship in larger numbers in reality, I think we may feel more weariness than revival. But God can prompt us in our recovery for we are the hands and feet and voice of our Lord Jesus Christ to our broken society in these days ahead of us. A people of healing and wholeness, a people of joy. So Christian folk, let people see you in the midst of trials, encouraged and strengthened as you do good works and speak Godly words. God chose you. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.