That was a year, that was

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Well 2016 is drawing to a close and what a year it has been!  I have no doubt that many people will reflect on the number of celebrities that have passed away during the year and, I know, many others have faced their own struggles.  But, has 2016 really been a bad year and will 2017 be any better?

I read an interesting post by Jeff Lucas yesterday which helped me put 2016 into perspective

While not denying that our headlines have been dominated by the loss of celebs recently (and the pain that this has bought to their families), this had led to a rather superstitious response. There’s been lots of social media chatter about 2016 being a personalized force which is rather keen on dispatching well known persons. And of course 2017 will be welcomed as an unsullied agent of rescue and a harbinger of hope. Just to say that a year is nothing more than a collection of dates. It has no living personality or ability to control events. Just saying.

(Jeff Lucas – Facebook Post 29th Dec 2016)

 

I believe he is right.  Any “year” is just a collection of dates.  In part, our perspective of a year is shaped by what the headline writers report and our response to it.  It is also shaped by our circumstances and our response to them.

When God told the prophet Habakkuk that the people of Judah were going to face a really tough time, Habakkuk’s response was one that I think we can learn from;

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the LORD,

I will be joyful in God my Saviour.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he enables me to go on the heights.

(Habakkuk 3 vs. 17 – 19)  

The headlines and circumstances do not matter, what shapes a year is our response.  Habakkuk’s response was to keep his eyes fixed on God.

So, what will 2017 be like?  Whatever happens,  I pray that it will be a year of blessing for you and that, like Habakkuk, you will keep your eyes on God.

Strength or weakness?

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When I was growing up, breakfast TV did not really exist (no, the dinosaurs were not still roaming!).  My parents were not keen on music first thing in the morning and so, our radio was tuned into the Today Program on Radio 4 (198 long wave in the good old days!!)

Now, for those of you who have not endured long hours of boring political debate, you may not realize that every day on the Today Program at 7:50 there is a “Thought For the day”.  If I am honest, in my growing years, in the main I found these dull and uninspiring.  There was, however, one notable exception Rabbi Lionel Blue.  I was saddened to hear of Lionel Blue’s death on 19th December.

Rabbi Lionel Blue had a voice that was warm and kindly.  He always had a little story or joke to tell and there was usually a smile to take you into your day.  But, the broadcast that will always stick in my mind was in 1980 when he “came out”.  Although I was only 12 at the time and didn’t really understand what that meant, I knew that what he had shared was significant for him, and must have been a difficult thing to share with his listeners.  The controversy that followed must have been painful for him.  And my reaction?  I have to say that, I admired his courage in allowing himself to be made vulnerable.  I learnt that to be really vulnerable takes incredible strength.

In my reflections leading up to this Christmas time, I have been thinking about the vulnerability of God.  In Jesus, Almighty God, takes on the vulnerability of a helpless baby born in a stable without the benefits of modern science.  Born into an ordinary family without the advantages of wealth.  Born into a nation that was under occupation by a super power, lived among a people who were nothing to their captors.  The ultimate vulnerability, however, was to come when He was made vulnerable for all humanity and He hung upon a cross.  God made Himself vulnerable for us because He loves us.

You see, the more I think about it, the more I realize that only the truly strong are willing to make themselves vulnerable for the sake of others.

Over this Christmas time, may the God who became vulnerable for you be known to you.