Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5: 6-11 (ESV)
Roaring lions are pretty scary - I've seen a few when we've been on safari in South Africa, and these verses from 1 Peter always leave me feeling a bit uncomfortable - and I guess they're meant to.
Clayton read these verses to us at vestry last night and a little later Ben prayed for us all to have courage: and the image which sprang to mind as we prayed was Reepicheep in Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis. This brave little warrior mouse had one objective: to fight for Aslan, the lion who is so much greater than, and who is the ultimate conqueror of, the roaring lion in 1 Peter. Aslan who is also a lion, but one who is all goodness, all love. Reepicheep's life was committed to defending Aslan's name, and to following hime with all his body, heart and soul.
Courage in the face of spiritual warfare is not only an emotion however, it is the reminder that any time we face an enemy we can do so with the Holy Spirit inside, beside and all around us leading us on. Courage is a feature in our internal and external worlds. As we begin to move to in-person worship, while the pandemic is still ongoing, we are required to have courage in the ways we behave: courage to know when to attend, and when to stay home. Courage to invite our friends and neighbors to explore a relationship with Jesus and maybe to come to church or small group. Courage to chat and make small talk. And also courage to talk about your fear with a friend or family member. Courage to listen to your feelings. Courage to engage in a world where there is much darkness with the confidence that comes from knowing God is with us.
Those verses in 1 Peter remind us too that all of this requires humility and a willingness to be accountable to God and to others. Reepicheep's major stumbling block was his vanity and he had to learn how to approach others (and Aslan) humbly. A lesson he learned well - if you haven't read the book ever or for a long time, pick it up and read it this week!
SO a few easy steps:
Please could you fill in this form right now? It will take 15 seconds and save me emails :) (It's about Sunday worship)
PRAY for our community, for continued protection from COVID, for everyone who can to get vaccinated, and for our wisdom and good protocols as we re-gather.
Be humble and courageous - what a great combo! - as you speak out about your faith with others. Why not invite someone to one of the Holy Week services in person or on zoom? Or to join us live for Easter Sunday?
Here's a sign up form for Holy Week in-person (or garden church) worship.
It would be fun to have some garden seating and plant troughs on the carpark: keep your eyes open on your neighborhood listserve for free benches, garden chairs, a picnic table perhaps or even logs!
On Saturday come and re-acquaint yourself with AUMC, the Chapel and your pastors :) we'll be onsite all morning but especially from 11am-12pm for a cuppa tea and a cookie and to give you a palm branch/pre-consecrated elements for our last 100% zoom on Sunday!
Hold onto the truth that "(He) will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you!
Go and dig out a Narnia book and treat yourself this week.
Always happy to hear from you - give me a call or drop me an email if you would like to walk, talk, pray.