Welcome to this Wednesday’s Prayer and Fasting.
For weeks I have been particularly enjoying trees. The autumn colours were wonderful; but now that the season has changed, they stand with an exposed, lonely elegance against stunning winter skies.
We have experienced almost a year of being stripped back on all sorts of fronts, and now that Christmas is ahead; this too will be very pared down and different to our usual celebrations.
In some ways, the winter tree personifies our ‘nakedness’; but is it always a bad thing?
In my own lifetime, I have experienced a few seasons of being significantly stripped back. The first was during a year spent living in a developing country. Even ministries and skills that I was good at became irrelevant. Yet during that time, God birthed in me an unexpected new ministry. The second time was during a short sabbatical break. I had actually been looking forward to it; yet it was in some ways an uncomfortable time because I encountered the holiness of God in a deeper way. And now, here we are in a very prolonged time where pretty much everything that we have taken for granted has been shaken, removed or perhaps become immaterial.
Could it be that some of what has been shed this year had completed its season, and that for God to undertake the new, the old has had to go.
I’d like to take you back to my first entry on April 15th in which Lynn Green (General Secretary of the Baptist Union) began a thought-provoking sermon with the following words:
‘See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
And streams in the wasteland.’
Isaiah 43 v19
God is not unkind. He does not crush us in His desire to move His people forward. He sees all the challenges, heartaches and hard work that have shaped this extraordinary year.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, Philippians ch 2v6-7 reminds us that Christ voluntarily stripped Himself of all His glory to enter our broken world.
Perhaps we could worship out of this simple version of one of my favourite carols. Please listen carefully to the words. They express the Gospel in a nutshell.
“Risen with healing in His wings.” It’s poetic language from the above carol; but nevertheless, so true. Jesus heals.
This is from an outside prophetic source but has resonated with me: push hard into God’s healing grace at this time. It has been a tough year, you’ve faithfully given yourselves away and faced unprecedented challenges. God wants to pour His healing oil into your spirit.
The following is also what I am sensing. Don’t hurry the winter. There’s something of a resting in this season. All the sap in that tree is there; but if it is forced into growth prematurely it won’t do well.
…..so let’s pray. I don’t really want to give you bullet points. We all know that the final negotiations over Brexit are approaching, that the Government have so many issues out of the pandemic to deal with and that there are multiple local and global issues that clamour for our prayerful attention.
Instead, I would like to ask you to look at that tree again.
Perhaps its backdrop inspires worship (isn’t that a form of prayer?).
Maybe you want to reflect on some of the words of this meditation (silent prayer).
Perhaps you just want to receive God’s healing touch. I think that today God gives you permission simply to be a recipient of His love.