A message from the Chaplain

Dear friends, beste vrienden,

Happy New Year! Beste wensen allemaal!

For many people, 2021 is more than just flipping the calendar. It is a new beginning which is desperately needed.

The Bible is filled with ‘new beginnings’: the story of Creation, the rainbow after The Flood, God’s promise to Abraham & Sarah, Jesus’ birth, Jesus’ death & resurrection, baptism, and lots more! We are practically experts when it comes to ‘new beginnings.’ Even the Book of Revelation is not the Grand Finale. It speaks of, ‘a NEW heaven,’ ‘a NEW earth,’ and a, ‘NEW Jerusalem’ (Rev. 21). So, we’ve got a lot of experience in this area, and we should be sharing our wisdom with the world as it emerges from the strangeness of 2020.

Usually, when we replace something that’s broken, we toss the OLD item in the trash bin and buy a NEW one. Simple. Easy. No fuss. (unless we’re concerned with the environment). We don’t even hesitate. But when God does something NEW, the OLD thing doesn’t get thrown out. It’s like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, God’s NEW thing comes out of what is already there. This is how Jesus describes the Kingdom of God – it’s like yeast, growing within the dough, or a weed growing in rocky soil.

It’s the same as when we are baptised. There’s no magic switch that turns us into a perfect person who never sins (sorry, if you thought it would). There is no ‘automatic setting’ for our life of faith where we ‘set it and forget it.’ Faith is like a seed that takes an entire lifetime to grow with care, attention, watering and pruning.

The world is currently rejoicing that safe vaccines have been developed to stop the spread of covid-19. It is nothing short of a miracle that an effective vaccine is available so quickly. Thanks be to God for all those scientists, researchers, lap staff and research trial patients who worked on this to help all of humanity! But just because a few people have received the vaccine, doesn’t mean we can instantly go back to our old way of living. The NEW way is still emerging. Like the kingdom of God, it will take time.

It also requires a NEW way of seeing because whenever God does something NEW, not everyone is aware. Many people look to the past and complain about change, but God sends prophets and messengers to help us see that God is still creating and caring for our world. God is still loving and redeeming us. Whatever emerges from the covid-crisis of 2020, we should be asking ourselves, ‘What new thing is God giving life to now?’ And, ‘How can we be a part of it?’

God never moves backwards. After the resurrection, Jesus did not return to his OLD life. It was NEW life. For Jesus, it happened quickly. One day, he lay dead in the tomb, the next he was walking around the garden and showing up inside locked rooms. In 2021, our resurrection will not happen as fast as Easter day. Slowly, over months… maybe even years, God calls us forward into a new way of living. No doubt, it will be tempting to ‘go back’ to ‘normal’ but that’s not how God works. God moves forwards, towards something NEW. Will we join him on that journey?

The Good News is that the terrible year of 2020 has come to an end. A New Year is beginning. What will happen? What will it be like? One thing we can always be sure of is that God will be with us through it all.

Many blessings,
Canon Stephen Murray


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