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‘The Lord is my Shepherd’
‘Even if I go through the deepest darkness I will not be afraid, for You are with me. Your Shepherd’s rod and staff protect me’ (Psalm 23 Good News Bible).
The Psalmist certainly knew tough and challenging times.
He, like many people today, had first-hand experience of finding God’s loving care and protection provided just at the right time, often in surprising ways. While the ways of the shepherding seem far removed from our lifestyles, we do know about ‘deepest darkness’, isolation, illness, bereavement, helplessness, uncertainty of jobs and finances, of schooling, problems with relationships, mental health and so much more.
Now, further restrictions bring thwarted plans, dashed hopes, confusion and unexpected change.
Christmas this year has been different and New Year celebrations are being swept away.
Is there anything of hope and comfort; anything to learn about wholesome living in this experience?
The real meaning of Christmas and of new beginnings with God, remains unchanged, despite the challenges of our present social, commercial and political circumstances.
Two millennia ago, angels spoke to bewildered shepherds, bringing the message of not fearing, and of God’s love for all people.
They heard the Good News that God was coming in Jesus, to be among people, to be with them in every human predicament. Jesus comes to share every experience, being helper, comforter, guide through the unknown, and the light for each day’s journey.
With this truth in our hearts, we can step out into 2021 without fear, affirming the Psalmists words, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I will not be afraid, for You are with me’.
We face the future with hope, if we see God’s life and care around us, if we recognise the fingerprints of His love in the huge things, like the wonder of medical science; in the development of tests and vaccines, in the small everyday surprises, in the opportunities to bring support, listening time and care to others, and in finding our needs supplied.
We can know that God of new beginnings is with us. We can accept His offered gifts of peace and hope for our living.
Reverend Carol Leech