A Happy New Year to you all! I do hope that it is been a good Christmas for you with at least some time for rest and refreshment….
As we begin the New Year, just imagine that the Prime Minister calls your mobile phone tomorrow. When you recover from the shock, she calmly explains that, in the interests of greater democracy, the government has decided that it wants to listen to the opinion of an ordinary representative person as it makes important decisions relating to this country. A powerful computer has chosen your name at random from a list of the entire electorate. She is therefore calling to ask you if you would be willing to come and sit with her government to share your thoughts and concerns on behalf of the people. I’m pretty sure that, although you might be nervous, you would make the time, cancelling anything in the diary in order to attend. It would in fact be a great honour…..
Amazingly, as Christians, we have received an even greater invitation. The King of Kings invites us into his very presence to share our thoughts and concerns on behalf of the people we are with day by day in our workplaces, our communities, our nation and beyond. And the extraordinary thing is that the Bible makes it clear that our opinions and choices really do matter. For example:
God clearly listened as Abraham pleaded with him on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18)
He also clearly listened as King Hezekiah pleaded with him to grant him a further 15 years when he had been told by the prophet Isaiah that his death was imminent (2 Kings 20:16)
He also clearly listened when Moses raised his hands to heaven on behalf of the Israelites when they were locked in battle with their enemies the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8 – 13)
And he also clearly listened when Moses pleaded with him for his presence to go with his people (Exodus 33)
It’s amazing to think that our thoughts, concerns and insights really do matter to the one who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and that he really does invite us into his very presence even today to share those concerns with him. But in the middle of all that we face even this week, I wonder how willing we are to accept that invitation?
Two elderly ladies, Christine and Peggy Smith, aged 82 and 84, were deeply concerned about the complete absence of young people from their church. So they came to God and begun to share that concern with him. As they prayed, they had a vision of young people filling the church, which they shared with the Minister. When he asked them what he should do, they told him he should pray! And he begun to gather with his church leaders in a barn at the end of their village two nights a week and the sisters continued to pray in their home at the same time. Eventually one evening one of the leaders read from psalm 24 about the need for clean hands and a pure heart to stand in the present, and said I must ask ‘is my heart here? Are my hands clean? With that, God came and met with him and the barn was filled with his presence in a quite extraordinary way. And so began the Great Hebrides revival on the Isle of Lewis in 1949. But it all started with two elderly ladies who knew that the king of kings and Lord of Lords had invited them into his very presence to share their concerns with him – and to him that came…….
I wonder whether we have the heart that they had even this week…..
THE INVITATION by Revd. Dr. June Hughman