‘But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’. (Luke 2 20)

I shared a message today with a community where I have been preaching for about 5 years. In the early days, it was a loud, vibrant spirit filled church. Praise and worship could sometimes take up most of the first hour of a service whilst the people joyfully praised their Lord and Saviour. Over the years, they have struggled. They have had a few ministers come and go, they have been caught up in power struggles and financial worries and the church where I walked in today was so flat I could hardly believe it was the same place.

I sensed a heaviness and an apathy in that place which was difficult to be part of, mainly because of the fact that I have known them to be so different in the past. I have known them to experience joy and thanksgiving and to express it, no matter what they were facing individually…

It reminded me that no matter what happens, our ability to ride the storms of life lies in the fact that we need to be able to imagine a better world and a better time and a better place. Jesus birth is about imagining and then recreating the world He came to save. Its about always holding on to hope. When we hold fast to hope, we can remain strong and rooted and faithful. This community is nothing if not faithful. They might be tired and wounded, but they have not abandoned their spiritual home for a bigger, shinier, newer place. They remain rooted in this community and for that I admire their resilience. I wonder whether I would have the same level of faithfulness and loyalty …

Today, Jesus we say thank you that your story helps us to imagine a better world and that that imagination is fuelled by our hope in you and your ways. Guard our hearts to ponder the beauty of life in all its gory wonderfulness and to know that no matter what we face, on this day a child was born that we might know life and know it as you intended it – filled with hope and love and peace and joy.

Come Lord Jesus, come …

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