Wisdom and waiting
1 John 2:12-17
This week I bring you our final reflection of the year. 2020 will undoubtedly go down in the history books as a turbulent, difficult year for many. It has been a year where we have been reminded of the importance of our nurses, delivery drivers, paramedics, and supermarket workers in a re-balancing of roles and what we consider important. It has also been a year that has forced many of us to confront our own mortality. In the first of our readings, the apostle John encourages us to rebalance our lives and warns us of the dangers of pursuing the world’s agenda, which risks pushing God out of the way. As the dawn of a new year is almost upon us, it is a timely word to reflect on as many set resolutions: how might we each adjust our goals to ensure that our Heavenly Father remains front and centre in all that we do and say?
Perhaps the cry of the Psalmist would be an appropriate prayer as we embark on another year; a cry that the nations of this world would recognise who God is, and that each of us might enter 2021 with humility and acknowledgement of who really is in charge.
But our readings offer us a further challenge. As we look back on 2020 it would be understandable to dwell on the enormous loss we have experienced as a nation. We have each been touched by death and loss, impacted by the restrictions of not being able to spend time with friends and family, and the fall in income as many of our jobs have disappeared. It would be reasonable for these to dominate our prayer life and worship, and yet we have before us the wonderous example of Anna the prophetess.
Anna would rightly have a lot to feel sorry about, not least losing her husband so early in their marriage. She could have wallowed in bitterness, but instead spent her time praising God. Anna is the only widow named in the gospel of Luke, but what stands out is the quality of her life, especially her faith. She is a model of waiting, of recognising, of fasting, of prayer and of praise. She had moved beyond the past and looked to a new future. There was no looking back with regret with what life had brought her. She had grown strong and was filled with wisdom. As a model of discipleship, let us each shape our prayers and draw strength from her example in welcoming and presenting Jesus to those around us in 2021, looking forward to a new future where many more will declare that Jesus is Lord.
Modified from a prayer by Carol Penner (leadinginworship.com)
We’re still here, God,
another year come and gone.
Some parts are clear and memorable,
other parts blurry, having rushed by too fast.
Some things happened that didn’t make sense,
but we trusted that even amidst our questions,
you are still on the throne and all power belongs to you.
This year has found us experiencing hurt as well as loss,
life in lockdown, with all its particularities, pain, and restrictions.
We have cried out to our God of Hope –
and you have heard our cry.
Thank you for a Saviour who can join with us
declaring that all lives matter,
that the least are the most important,
and who lives to show us the way through.
Thank you for every smile and look of reassurance,
for every encouragement
and every surprise of your blessing.
Hear our prayer now for the year ahead.
Holy Spirit, help us believe in rainbows and sunshine
after the bleakest storms.
Help us believe, against all odds, in love,
and to look forward in faith.
This time next year, we want to be telling you
about another trip around the sun,
and how it’s been glorious.
In our reading from Psalm 96 we are told to ascribe to glory to God three times. The word ‘ascribe’ means ‘to name a quality that belongs to a person or thing.’ What quality of God inspires you personally to give thanks and praise? Why not make a list of twelve of them, and resolve yourself to focussing on one a month over the coming year as a basis for your private prayers? If you need some help, the following website offers examples of fifteen different attributes: biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/15-amazing-attributes-of-god-what-they-mean-and-why-they-matter.html