Holy God, Creator of the hills and valleys, Mountains and oceans, Maker of all that is, Give strength in weariness, Confidence in uncertainty, Wisdom in the unexpected, Peace in the busyness. God I give this, and every day to you. Amen
This month the Methodist communities I serve in Bognor Regis, Felpham and Westergate are going to be studying the letter to the Colossians, and my Sunday reflection videos are going to take a sneaky peak too.
This week we’re looking at Colossians 1:1-23, which forms something of the trailer for what’s to come in the rest of the letter. It sets the scene for us.
The Colossian Christian community have been coming under pressure. Colossae had been a busy riverside city, a centre of trade – but other cities had overtaken them and Colossae had become a bit of a has been place.
As a result, there was a lack of hope, there was uncertainty in the community. And pressure was building from many corners of their society. All vying for attention, cults presenting themselves as truth and hope and salvation.
Paul, who writes this letter from prison, and has never met the Colossian Christians face to face. He’s heard of their faith, and he writes to them. Much like me speaking to a camera right now, hoping that you who are watching will be encouraged in your faith, Paul wanted to encourage them.
And so he writes:
In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.
Paul writes to encourage and affirm the Colossian Christians in the faith they have…
‘you’re doing good’
Keep at it…
Despite the pressures around you, keep at it.
Keep focused on Jesus.
There’s much more Paul wants to say about Jesus – and why keeping focused on Jesus gives hope – and we’ll come back to that more next week.
But this week – I want to encourage you.
Life is full of pressure and uncertainty right now.
And here in the UK we’re in a patchwork of restrictions across the country, there’s very live debate about whether the restrictions are going to far, or not far enough, what the scientific evidence is…
There’s so much vying for out attention.
Some much competition for truth.
Just as Paul encourages the Colossian Christian community to keep on keeping on, despite the pressure around them, my encouragement to you is to keep on keeping on.
If you a Christian – keep at your relationship with Jesus.
Paul goes on to celebrate the truth that the Colossian community’s faith is bearing fruit and growing among them (1:6).
Church – keep growing, keep praising, keep praying, keep encouraging one another in faith.
Keep asking questions and looking to God for answers.
If you’re not a Christian, then I want say to you – that despite all the noise around us, and around you, presenting itself as truth and hope – there is one true source of hope that will be faithful to you, and never leave you – Jesus.
Jesus is hope, and truth, and light.
Jesus has, and continues to make such a difference to my life.
Jesus is the one certainty, the one truth, we can hold onto.
We’ll look at more on how Paul presents the hope Jesus gives next week.
Have any of you had a surprise recently? A surprise phone call? Or a surprise left on your doorstep?
I had a surprise this week – on Easter Sunday Louise got me my favourite Easter Egg, and not just 1 – a box of 12 of the marvellous things – crème eggs!
We’re in the first week of Easter, and this week I’ve been looking at some of the resurrection stories in John’s gospel. I’ve noticed more then I have done before how Jesus doesn’t appear in the temple – the place of worship, but in houses and homes, to people walking and working.
In the resurrection encounters with Jesus, perhaps it’s fair to say Jesus appears to people in isolation, on daily exercise, or working as keyworkers!
One of those passages is John 20:19-22:
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’
After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’
When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
If you’ve ever been with me when I’ve led a home communion service, you’ll know I often use this passage. I find it a helpful passage for home communion because in the surprise that Jesus appears in locked room, we are reminded of the truth that Jesus comes to us where we are, in our houses and homes.
And not only that, but Jesus says receive the Holy Spirit, an ever present comforter and strengthener – the very presence of God. I’ve found that a great comfort and strength this week as I seek to live in the resurrection.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been really encouraged by way Jesus is ministering among us even though we’re physically distance from one another. I’ve found the testimonies and stories I’ve hearing in phone calls, emails, messages and on the blog an inspiration. So please keep sharing your stories of Jesus at work!
Always be ready to notice Jesus at work – because you never know what’s coming next!
Share your Story
So that’s one of the ways God has been in my week – what about you?
Where has God been in your week? How might God be surprising you? What ways are you finding strength and encouragement?
Comment below and share your stories of God with us, in us and among us.