Pastoral Letter January 2021
I just want to write a few words of encouragement as we have entered the New Year 2021. As we all know 2020 has been a challenging year for many. COVID 19 has halted the world to pause and reflect. Meanwhile, millions have lost their lives to this deadly decease. World governments are overwhelmed with pressure on hospitals and in some there is no room and so people are left to die. Millions have lost their jobs and businesses have gone bust.
However, in midst of this pandemic, a lot of good is happening. We see people’s generosity and care for humanity and available resources are shared. Some are going the extra mile to reach out to the vulnerable and helpless people. We are so thankful for such kindness shown to others. We are very grateful to the NHS and other social and civil services who are working very hard to help the needy. Thousands of people are patiently waiting for their operations bearing physical pain and suffering for the sake of people who are more desperate for help. Despite two lockdowns the church never stopped being church. We could quickly adapt to new online worship services. New talents and gifts are discovered within the churches. Technology has hugely helped to be in touch with people.
This Christmas we have had a most unusual way of celebrating, especially dear ones not being there either because of death or because of travel bans, or because of government restrictions. Yet, some have rejoiced at this Christmas with their families being together.
Regrettably, we have had to close our church buildings for our regular services for at least January 2021. However, the New Year 2021 is a year of hope for everyone. We hope to see things will settle by summer with vaccine reaching all people in the United Kingdom. Matt Hancock announced in the parliament that last week that the UK vaccine which will now available to the UK citizens.
It reminds me of the prophet Isaiah’s words of comfort and hope to his people. The people of Israel were once again captives in the land of Babylon. God said, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”(Isaiah 43:1) In verse 4 God says, “you are precious and honoured and because I love you”.
God loved his people and had the plans to redeem the people and said, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 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” (verses 18-19). Here, God was reminding people of the past event of Exodus when the people of Israel were redeemed by God from the bondage of Egypt. He had led his the people of Israel by separating the water in the Red Sea.
So God was asking people to leave this past story behind and look forward to a new thing that he was going to do. He now has plans to redeem His people from the Babylonian captivity and bring them back to the land of Israel. This was such a great and joyous news of hope and restoration to the Jews who were captives in Babylon. When King Cyrus of Persia defeated the Babylonians he allowed the Jews to go back to their land. The journey would be treacherous from Persia to Israel as it was a great desert journey (Ezra 1-4), like in the past journey in Sinai peninsula (Deuteronomy 2:7), but in such desert land He would make a way for the people and they shall see the streams in the wasteland.
Sometimes God tests us allowing us to suffer. In most cases, people get closer to God in difficult times and taste God’s love and grace. That is why David, who believed God as his Shephard, said in Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
So friends let us take comfort and strength in the Lord and by placing all our anxieties and uncertainties in His loving and caring hands.
O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you, and a life to proclaim you, through the power of the spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Please be assured of our prayers.
Wishing you all a Peaceful and a Happy New year.
With much love,