Leaving the desert behind


Wanderlust, Paris  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

It was my privilege, as newly appointed moderator of the International Presbytery, to conduct the communion service at our Presbytery meeting in Paris this past weekend.

Here is a transcript of my reflection on Joshua 1:1-9.


Only be strong and courageous

I regularly listen to a podcast called Creative Pep Talk. Here is God giving Joshua a pep talk at a crucial, threshold moment in his life and in the life of his people. And, I suppose, this is my pep talk to you and to my own soul.

Joshua got a sneak preview of the Promised Land 40 years earlier, as one of the 12 spies, and he and his friend, Caleb, returned with glowing reports, admitting it wouldn’t be easy but with God’s help nothing is impossible.

Sadly – tragically – the other 10 spies were anything but strong and courageous and they sowed a spirit of fear and unbelief.

Joshua stayed true to his convictions all through the wilderness years, faithfully serving Moses as his assistant and spending time with God, getting to know Him better.

With Moses gone and the Promised Land back on the agenda, it was time for a leader with a different personality and skill set. A warrior leader, strong and courageous, to inspire his people (this time round) to be strong and courageous too.

‘Be strong and courageous, Joshua,’ God said (v. 6). ‘Only be strong and courageous’ (v. 7). ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened or dismayed’ (v. 9). ‘As I was with Moses,’ God said, ‘I will be with you; I will not fail or forsake you’ (v. 5). ‘The Lord your God is with you wherever you go’ (v. 9).

To paraphrase: ‘Be strong and courageous, Joshua, because you are not alone. If you continue to trust me and obey my commandments, there is nothing to fear. I’ve got your back.’

Earlier in Deuteronomy 31:7-8 God used Moses to encourage Joshua with these self-same words. This time God encourages Joshua in person with wave upon wave of loving affirmation, so the words sink in.

We can all do with more courage and encouragement – especially when we are tempted to give up, worn out by the wilderness years; or when we’re on the threshold of something new and risky; or when we face wave upon wave of opposition as we venture forward to make the Promised Land our own.

Let me encourage you today.

Whatever ‘strong and courageous’ means in your context, be strong in the Lord and courageous. For ‘God did not give us a timid spirit, but a spirit of power and love and sound judgement’ (2 Timothy 1:7).

And let us encourage one another as we boldly move forward to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us (Phil 3:12).  Amen
 


Call to worship

(inspired by Jeremiah 31:7-9)

Praise God!
For God is gathering His people together.
From near and far we come together—
the wounded and the whole, the weak and the strong—
seeking God’s presence,
God’s forgiveness,
and God’s direction for our lives.

by Christine Longhurst, re:Worship
 

Ding! Dong! Curiosity


come on in …
 

My Christmas reflection

from the lessons and carols service in Rotterdam on Sunday, 23 December 2018.

 
I love books, especially books full of ooh! and aha! moments.

This book, How to be an explorer of the world is one of them. It’s full of practical projects designed to reconnect us with the wide-eyed wonder we had as children.

Wonder in the little things, the seemingly simple things of life.

But if you get up close and personal you discover they are far from simple. Each living thing is a wonderland.

Take a new-born baby … in many ways like any other baby, in need of love and nurture; in so many ways, wholly unique and unpredictable.

Take the geranium in my kitchen or the orchid collection in Romina’s living room; in many ways like other plants, in need of care and attention; in so many ways, wholly unique.

Just like children exploring the world, discovering things for the first time, it’s good to have some ‘firsts’ of our own on a regular basis … to set ourselves up for regular doses of wonder.

The key is curiosity.

Like Mary’s curiosity that kept her from opting out in her encounter with the angel and that prompted her visit to Elizabeth.

Like the shepherds, confronted by an army of good news angels, who left their flocks to search for the baby in a manger.

Like the wise men, who were curious about the meaning of the star that appeared out of nowhere and set off to honour the new born king of the Jews they read about in their ancient writings.

Naturally there were risks and no doubt they were afraid. How did they overcome the fear and come into action?

Somehow they let their curiosity and not their fear dictate their response. They found the faith and courage to explore the world that God was bringing into being, partly through their willingness to play their part.

May God bless us all with a good dose of curiosity this Christmas, so the familiar and the fearful do not trap us in a ‘that’s the way it is’ and ‘that’s the way it always will be’ mindset. Instead, may we find the grace to go deeper and maybe find new, more life-giving ways to celebrate Christmas and so discover anew the wonderland that Christmas is meant to be – whatever our age, whatever our circumstances.
 


A prayer

It may seem naive,
   in a world of grief,
      to choose to live in joy;

It may seem foolish,
   in a world where solemnity is power,
      to sing and dance to a different tune;

It may seem cruel,
   in a world of suffering and injustice,
      to speak of light and celebration;

But you have come, Jesus,
   to bring joy into our grief,
      light into our darkness,
      singing into our mourning;
   and it is an act of healing and proclamation
      to believe and embrace the joy you offer.

Joy to the world!
   The Lord is come!
      Hallelujah!

Amen.

written by John van de Laar, published on the Sacredise.com website.
 


 
From the blog
Nature bringing joy