The New Room is sharing a Friday reflection each week. We hope that these short reflections will act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.
This week’s reflection is from the New Room’s Education Officer, Rev Mandy Briggs.
Reading – 1 Peter c1 v 3-4, 13-16 (Good News Bible)
Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Because of his great mercy he gave us new life by raising Jesus Christ from death. This fills us with a living hope, and so we look forward to possessing the rich blessings that God keeps for his people. He keeps them for you in heaven, where they cannot decay or spoil or fade away.
So then, have your minds ready for action. Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desires you had when you were still ignorant. Instead, be holy in all that you do, just as God who called you is holy. The scripture says, “Be holy because I am holy.”
We met some friends at the weekend for a socially distanced picnic. The last time we saw them was New Year’s Eve, when we welcomed in 2020 together.
Looking back, we talked about the hope and optimism that we had felt on that last day of 2019, comparing our feelings then with the realities of 2020 which have been so very different to what we expected.
Challenging, exhausting, frustrating, draining – and yet also creative, transformational, reflective and extraordinary.
I wonder what we’ll all be feeling by the time we get to December 31st this year?
This week marks the start of a new year in the Methodist Church of Great Britain. Ministers and lay people are beginning new roles. Children and young adults are going back to school and college. Something shifts within us as the new term starts. Summer ends and Autumn begins and we realise that we are in a new place.
Some of us have literally moved to a physical new place. But for others, we are in new territory emotionally and spiritually. We have travelled over rocky terrain these past few months. We have had to draw a new map and find new pathways. Some of us have been confident; some of us have been scared; some of us have been anxious. This has meant that we have had to dig deep, trust God and sometimes just hang on for dear life.
Today’s reading from the book of 1 Peter sends us a message as we start this new chapter. We are encouraged to take our next steps with ‘living hope’.
Peter encourages us to be thankful and to remember that we have been given new life through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This new life means that we can live with hope. As Ruth Harvey, the leader of the Iona Community put it in a service on Radio 4 this week: “Hope is energy for the long haul”.
However, we should also think clearly and live with holy intent – because to do that is part of our call as Christians.
John Wesley spoke about ‘social holiness’. From reading around this, it seems that the original context of this phrase was to encourage Methodists not to practice solitary religion. Wesley is saying – if we are on this journey, we are on it together and should learn and grow together, not thinking we can go it alone.
But for Wesley, the term ‘social holiness’ also meant engaging with the issues of the day – poverty, politics, the economy, prison reform, slavery and war. He longed for Methodists to be practically involved in changing the world around them for the better.
What would Wesley be calling us to be concerned about now?
Desperate people clinging to tiny boats in the Mediterranean
The scandal of the need for food banks around the UK
The injustices of the housing system and the growing needs of families and single people made homeless.
The cry of communities around the world that Black Lives Matter.
The climate emergency and the need to be mindful about our use of the world’s resources
Over the last few months we have been challenged and changed as COVID 19 has caused us to do things in new ways. We have discovered the online world. We have connected with our neighbours. We have explored what it means to be church. Maybe our faith has taken on a different shape because of these experiences. Or maybe faith has been a struggle and we are wondering what the next chapter holds.
As we turn a page and prepare to write a new chapter, this new year brings with it a call to a living hope – a hope that we can carry within us and enact around us.
It is often a challenge to be or to feel holy a lot of the time – but in these days of change, God’s love for us keeps going, it never runs out. It is energy for the long haul.
The Methodist Church of Great Britain’s current President and Vice President, Richard Teal and Carolyn Lawrence have chosen a particular Wesley quote as their theme for the year ahead.
“The best of all is God is with us” – words attributed to Wesley in his last hours of life.
As we enter into this new season, my prayer is that we will all know that God is indeed with us, giving us a living hope in the days, months and year to come.
Thanks be to God! Amen
In the Methodist Church of Great Britain we use a prayer handbook every year to guide us in praying for the church and the world. It is available to buy here: https://www.methodistpublishing.org.uk/features/methodist-prayer-handbook-20202021-the-earth-is-the-lords
This year’s handbook is called ‘The Earth is the Lord’s’ and has an environmental theme. This prayer is written by Fresh Expressions and Pioneer Enabler Michele Sims.
Let us pray:
“Sit us on your shoulders Lord, we want to go where you go.
Carry us to the headland, so we can see ancient paths in new pastures.
Let us see your Spirit, dancing through the fields – pollinating, reviving, recreating.
Take us to the shore lands and thrill us in the surf, riding your wave of love.
When we wipe out, gather us up in your dry towels and send us off laughing again with hearts united to dream.