Happy New Year!
I hope and pray you are doing well by the grace of God.
No doubt, 2020 was one of the most difficult, challenging and pain-filled years in virtually everyone’s living memory, due to the unprecedented situation caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, when we look back over this past year, amidst all of the uncertainties, worries and difficulties, there were always some tokens of hope.
I hope, like me, you’re optimistic about the year ahead, but it may be quite a difficult journey before things improve. But for me, this is where my relationship with God comes in. Not once in the Bible does God promise that we’ll have a smooth ride in life with no hills, bumps or potholes. But time and again, God promises that He will be there to help us when we struggle. God promises to give us rest when we’re weary, comfort when we’re in pain, and to lift us when we’re down.
As people of hope, we never give up hope. We remain faithful because we trust in an everlasting God who is sovereign in all His ways. As we look towards the future, we may require to do church differently, worship God, become disciples, and participate in God’s mission.
We have all had to think differently about many things during the past months. We are probably going to have to make some of these changes permanent, or at least long-term.
I have indeed found this hard. I am used to going out when and where I want, shop where I like, meeting people for coffee, and visiting people and places as I choose. Most of us have missed going away on holidays. We have had to suspend midweek service, Sunday service gathering, and the church building closed.
It has all seemed very odd, but I think this has made us take responsibility for our own faith and practise more intensely, rather than expecting clergy to provide everything for us.
Most churches have been producing services and talks online, and this has been very valuable, especially as these have been reaching people who would not usually have come to church.
However, it has meant that church members who are not online have been disenfranchised and have probably felt isolated. Through all this, I hope we have and will all found more time and opportunity for prayer, reading the word of God, reflection, etc.
During the first lockdown, I started thinking a lot about the word Selah. Selah is a term used in the Bible, mostly in the Psalms. It’s one of those words that is of “uncertain meaning”, the best bet being that it is a musical term indicating that there is a musical interlude during which we are to pause and listen, to think about what has come before, and to prepare for what is coming next.
I know our current situation was not in the authors’ minds when they used the word selah, but I can think of no better command for this season we in to take time to look back on the past year:
What do we need to grieve?
What do we need to celebrate?
What have we learned?
What do we need to take with us?
What must we leave behind?
Take a moment to reflect on all that God has done in the past year. Remember all that has been lost and all gained, think about abandoned or added resolutions, and about lessons learned. And then to look ahead at the season to come. The season of giving thanks, of acknowledging God’s sovereign hand at work in our universe and our lives, of reflecting on how the light Christ invaded the darkness on that first Christmas bringing hope to the hopeless.
Beloved, the selah times allows us to look back and look ahead to pause, reflect, and ponder what God is saying to us. No pressure to perform right now, just to be and hear from God.
This is what the LORD says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls…’ (Jeremiah 6:16)