Our new minister, Chris Farmer, is approaching his third Sunday with us. He's starting a sermon series titled: Moving forward - Covid and Exile. And I have been asked to preach next week! What a flashback to when I belonged within a preaching team where Sundays would be planned ahead with Scriptures allotted and even outlines provided. Chris has provided this in full detail. Really full detail. He wants the church to think about how we move on from lockdown. To be honest about our feelings and to keep focusing on how the Lord is encouraging us to move forward. My Scripture is Nehemiah 1: with the theme Facing Hard Times.
It's several months since I last preached and it's been strangely demanding responding to a fresh opportunity and to think through his links between Moving Forward, Covid and Exile in the Old Testament. And Nehemiah in particular. I wondered about times when a nation has been attacked by something big and everything is shaken.
No surprise, in light of my recent posts, I was drawn to the questioning when 9/11 occurred. So many wondered if things would change afterwards for better or worse. How priorities might be shaken up with people thinking more about big questions. About God? About believing and behaving? Ministering in the US when 9/11 happened I saw in the days afterwards that churches were packed and people were kind. And Christian leaders wrote about how different the church could be. Some, like Philip Yancey, wrote that there could be revival. A massive step forward with God. But on the twentieth anniversary some of the same people reflected how it hadn’t happened. In fact, things had gone backward.
Covid’s attack on our nation and the world is very different and we are still living with it. But, we also wonder whether things will change afterwards for the better or worse. We have been living different lives for over 18 months. Covid shut us down. Forced us inside. Broke up patterns of our lives. We lost family and friends. We lost social contacts. Things we assumed would go on were stopped. For Christians, churches were closed. Good habits of worship, fellowship, prayer together in flesh were smashed up. Inside us we felt different. Will we go forward or backward?.
Do slmilar questions arise in the Exile?.....I