Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had some fantastic celebrations over the Christmas period. Thank you to everyone who joined us on New Year’s Eve, we had a great time enjoying fun, food, worship and prayer together whilst almost missing the 12 o’clock countdown…sorry!!
For the first Elders’ blog of 2023 I feel like I should be writing about resolutions and promises as we start a new year! What would you like to achieve? What habit would you like to break? How will you grow in your walk with God? Maybe you want to get fit or, like me a couple of years ago, train for a marathon this year (don’t do it, it’s a terrible idea!) This blog should be a cliche about how we will all end up failing our resolutions by the end of January anyway. However, it would be too easy to write that article. I want to talk about something else, something I have just discovered over the Christmas holidays…musicals!
During the Christmas break we had a family day where we treated the children to their first family trip to the cinema where we went to watch Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda the Musical’. Now I have very little experience of musicals unless you count the time I fell asleep watching Les Miserables in the West End (ooops) but what I have discovered since our cinema trip is just how catchy these musicals are! Eden and Ezra absolutely adored the film and have since had the soundtrack on repeat at home - sorry if they break out into song next time you see them!
What I liked about this musical was how simple it was. No matter how anyone was feeling, they just burst out into song, happy, sad, excited, scared, curious, there was a song for every emotion! It felt like everyone was able to express exactly how they felt by simply breaking out into song. - Oh if only life were that simple…but what if it was?
Hear me out - the more I read my Bible, the more it feels like a musical, and I’m not talking about Joseph and his Technicolor Dream Coat either! As you flick to various parts of the Bible you often see people bursting out into song, no matter what the situation. Let me give you some examples;
What about a part of the Christmas story that we often overlook. Just after Mary is told that she is going to give birth to Jesus she bursts out into song declaring ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour…’ in what is often referred to as ‘Mary’s Magnificat’ 1 (Luke 1:46-55). One of Mary’s first responses to hearing the wonderful news from God is to burst out into song.
If we look back into the Old Testament we see another famous song, this time towards David as he returns from killing Goliath. In 1 Samuel the people bring out their tambourines and burst into song singing ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’. 2 (1 Samuel 18:7). Sadly this song doesn’t go down as well with King Saul as it does with David!
A flick through the Psalms sees the writers of them note down song after song declaring God’s goodness, or processing situations that they are in! We see psalms which are songs for going into battle, songs for mourning, songs – in fact for every situation.
Do you follow my theory yet? What about Jesus? Well even he sings in the Bible. We see after eating the last supper in Matthew 26 it says that Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn together. 3 In the most somber of moments right before his arrest Jesus sang.
Of course, I’m being a little tongue in cheek by saying the Bible is like one big musical, but there is something in this. I think rather than making a new year’s resolution this year, we should just learn to sing more! We should learn to worship. Of course, worship is about a lot more than just singing - in fact I did a whole talk about worship last month (https://jct.church/r701). Work with the analogy here though, just like we see in the musicals, as every emotion is portrayed and processed through song, maybe that is how we should approach every situation, worshiping God as a starting point. This is easy when things go well. We can easily dance and tell God how good he is when we are feeling great, but what if we learned to worship when things don’t quite add up, when we are confused or simply downcast?
What if our way of processing things was to go back to God and give praise to him?
What if we learned to worship God in the midst of our difficulties, health issues, asylum claims, confusion about the world around us? What if our way of processing things was to go back to God and give praise to him? Would that change our perspective? I think it would.
There have been times over the past 12 months when I have just felt a bit down, sometimes it’s been a couple of hours, sometimes a couple of days, I’m sure you have felt something similar. Maybe like me your response is the same - when you feel down, you naturally shy away from God. You don’t pray as much, you don’t worship, you struggle to connect. Then one day suddenly you come back to God and your mood lifts, you fix your eyes back on him and just like that any feelings of negativity are replaced by awe and wonder. This year I want to be better at getting to the awe and wonder and spend less time feeling down! Worship is the way to do it!
We have a lot of exciting things coming up in Jubilee this year, but also a lot of steps of faith. We have some big decisions to make and those decisions will be best made from a place of worship. It’s no coincidence that we brought in the new year as a church worshipping together this year, I think this is an attitude that God wants us to have going forward. In our meetings together, God wants our worship to be spontaneous, spirit filled and joyful. Our smaller settings will become training grounds for gifts of the spirit as we learn to worship more. Our personal prayer time will become more vibrant and fuller as we learn to worship God despite our circumstances.
If I had any encouragement for you as we move into the new year together it would be to be a little bit like more like Matilda and learn to sing!
Happy New Year!
- Luke 1:46-55
- 1 Samuel 18:7
- Matthew 26:30
As we begin a new year, should we be making the same old resolutions or is there some bigger changes we can make to our day to day lives?
If, as Christians, we believe that the Bible is the living breathing word of God, we need to make sure that our attitude when coming to read the Bible reflects that.