New Year, Old Problems, New Rhythms

Happy New Year for 2015!
O how quickly it arrives. It’s been great this week kick starting the year and the term with these days of prayer. No matter how may people have gathered at any one time we have met with God. What an incredible privilege? It’s been … inspiring and challenging at the same time to spend time in the prayer space at the MBC Centre. My personal highlight has been the simple text from Matt 11:28 but in the Message version: ‘Learn the unforced rhythms of grace”.

That’s what I’m doing and encouraging everyone else to do too. Discovering and setting good, better, and healthier rhythms of grace in my life: praying and reading the Bible that nourishes and strengthens me. I love that text though because it’s a reminder that we’re not slaves to some regime that is pushed upon us and that we carry out duty-bound in fear of being told off for slacking! It’s an age old problem of coming up short and not doing what we intend to or want to. Our God is so different to that image. It’s been about taking the opportunity that we have to engage with the living and loving God – wow that is some privilege.

Being in that prayer space today we’ve been praying for the people of Paris, and France in general. The shock and grief must be horrendous for the families concerned. I know there are many angles and details in such a subject, but the bottom line is, disagreeing about something, however important to you, is absolutely no excuse to kill them and it bears no resemblance to God either. When I got up this morning I read Ephesians 5:1-2 “be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children and live a life of love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Jesus was absolutely clear about non-violence and his radical approach of blessing and praying for your enemies and turning the other cheek is unrivalled in the world, inspiring heroes like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jnr.

Of course, loving is not easy. It would be easy to hate the perpetrators of yesterday’s crimes, and want the same to happen to them. I struggle just as anyone does about that. But it would not build a better world. Only love can do that. We can pray for justice and see that justice is done, through the legal system and not at our own hands. Nothing wrong with that – God is a God of justice too, and it is his final say at the end of time that brings justice to all of creation. Let’s leave that job of deciding who gets what to him and in the mean time dedicate our lives to loving like Jesus did. That’s what this world needs.

So join with me as we learn the unforced rhythms of grace, and learn to live a life of love. Not easy, but worth it! “God comfort the people of Paris and may freedom and love win over violence and fear”.