January, as some of you may know, is named after the Roman god Janus, who had two faces, one looking forward and the other looking back. Often we take comfort in looking back, comfort in memories and comfort from past achievements. However, we cannot always be looking backward; we must look forward. The song writer wrote “One day at a time sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m asking from you” suggesting that for some the future is only just the next few moments or hours or just the very next day. Yet there is more than just the next moment, hour or day for most people. It is the same with the Church. Our roots are in the past, our beliefs are handed on from generation to generation. But each new generation lives in an ever evolving world; new technology by which we live, fresh and new problems which need different and new solutions. Jesus, in his time in ancient Palestine, would use parables, analogies, means and stories which were relevant to his audience. And so we need to follow his example in our efforts to spread the Gospel, the Good News about Jesus Christ.
Our roots may come from the past but we always need to be looking at the route ahead, thinking about how best to share the Good News in word and deed in a modern world. We live now in a world where the people of God, the Church, you and me, cannot take our existence and the attention of the world for granted. And so it is that we have to find ways of being noticed, of communicating the Gospel in ways that are relevant to modern people and of course their various needs.
In our services we use modern devices, using the visual as Jesus did with his parables except we do it with modern apparatus. But one of the methods that is always relevant, that was used by Jesus too, was kindness, good deeds, revealing the loving nature of God. Jesus fed the hungry, helped and healed the sick, he challenged hypocrisy, he saw through the false façade.
One of the most powerful tools that anyone can use is that of kindness enacted through acts of compassion. Yes, it can be challenging to be kind in a world which is often hostile to the Gospel, to any kind of spirituality. But an act of kindness can change a mind, melt an icy heart, bring hope to a cynical mind.
Indeed kindness is the principal tool of the likes of the Lodging House Mission, Geezabreak, Christian Aid, Food Banks and Drop in Cafes (like our own). Kindness can be seen when we look out for our neighbours, when flowers are given to someone mourning or ill. A wee visit to a housebound person can lift their spirits.
So, as we plot a route forward for 2018 may we resolve to keep the beacon of kindness shining brightly. In doing so we keep the love of God shining, the same light that burns brightly in our Saviour and Master Jesus. Remember always that as the year goes on we are never alone because Jesus promised to be with us always and with us always wherever we go.
Never be disheartened, never give up. Every act of kindness counts, every act of kindness matters—even if some are not good at expressing their appreciation.
Don’t be stuck in the past. The future can be full of opportunities and full of kindness too.
Shalom, peace be with you.
Your Friend and Minister,
7th February 2018