Tuesday, 22 March 2016

'Whom shall I fear?'

I was shocked to read the news this morning of bombs at the airport and metro station in Brussels. The real threat of terrorist attacks is very near home and it could easily make us fearful. I'm sure the people of Brussels must by anxious at this time, especially following the events in that city before Christmas. Today's psalm for Morning Prayer opens with the words 
The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
I need to be constantly reminded of this. That whatever is happening that in some way affects me, I can find an inner peace and security that helps me carry on. It may not change the circumstances, but it helps me face them - and perhaps then to make a difference to those circumstances, rather than simply giving in to them.
We must continue to pray that what appears to be a 'Messianic' brand of extreme Islam followed by those who apparently have no fear of death is defeated. I believe the only way ultimately is through prayer. St Paul wrote: 
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Paul was very clear that the way to counter evil spiritual forces was not with the weapons of the world:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
This is something that governments have little or no idea about as they see only the power struggles being played out on the ground. As Christians we need to be aware that there is a power struggle going on in the spiritual realm. This isn't fantasy or paranoia, but a sober recognition of why things are as they are.So what can we pray? Very simply, the line from the Lord's Prayer: Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for God's kingdom of peace, justice and joy to come in Syria, in Europe, wherever people are suffering unjustly. And to encourage us we only need to remember that next Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. When it seemed that people had done their worst to Jesus, God knew better and raised him from the dead. 

Don't neglect to meet together
Being on sabbatical since the end of January has made me feel rather detached from the church. It's been strange on a Sunday to have to decide what to do - where to worship, or indeed whether to worship with God's people. I've visited several churches in the area during these last weeks and it's been instructive to be in the place of a first-time visitor. I can appreciate the awkwardness that is felt when visiting a church for the first time, and so the type of welcome you receive really makes a difference. There is an art to welcoming people - getting the balance between warm friendliness and overpowering smothering. The best form of welcome I reckon is to be introduced to someone else in the congregation, and then you can find out why they are there and what they like about the church. I would say that welcome and friendship far outweigh the style of worship when deciding whether or not to visit a church for a second time. 

It's hard work maintaining your faith on your own. Like the single coal being taken out of the fire, you can quickly cool off. So if you are reading this and wondering whether or not to join with God's people in worship next Sunday, decide that you will. Let the warmth of their faith help to keep your own faith alive.

No comments: